The microbiome is currently making headlines around the world for its potential in human health. Since 99% of our microbes live in our intestinal tract, scientists concluded that optimising their conditions calls for a food-focused approach.

Figure 1: Plant foods have various biologically active compounds named phytochemicals; these have low bioavailability and are beneficial for gut health

How can we feed our gut microbiota?

Look for food that stays in the gut longer and doesn’t get absorbed well, or in other words, has a low bioavailability.

  • Fats: Raw nuts
  • Protein: HT dried pasta (high temperature dried lowers starch damage)
  • Carbs: Resistant starch (e.g. oats, legumes, potatoes)
  • Phytochemicals: Intact or raw plant tissue (e.g. carrots, cranberries, peanuts)

How can we keep the gut healthy?

  • Provide nutrients (e.g. fibre, prebiotics) to the gut microbiota
  • Consume products high in fibre (e.g. wheat bran) for more anti-inflammatory effects
  • Keep phytochemicals (active compounds in plants) protected from degradation and oxidation during storage and food processing (such as cooking or frying)

Is there a way to design the perfect food for optimal gut health? No, but unique, powerful organisms live in symbiosis with our body. We can, therefore, through optimal food and lifestyle choices nurse our gut microbes.

We all have a unique gut microbiome. That’s why the future of optimising our gut health through feeding our gut microbiota lies in personalized nutrition.

Source: Ercolini, D. & Fogliano, V. (2018). Food Design To Feed the Human Gut Microbiota. J Agric Food Chem. Accessed on 9thof May 2019.