You might have heard the scientific buzz surrounding the connection between a healthy gut and overall health, with studies showing that a person's microbiome — the collective name for all the microbes that inhabit an individual's body — can have an impact on conditions like obesity, diabetes and asthma, and may even have a profound effect on our mental well-being.
So how do you cultivate a healthy and happy microbiome? It starts with vegetables.
NPR's The Salt talked to a few experts about the dietary changes people can make in order to cultivate healthy bacteria in their bodies. It turns out that because microbiome research is still fairly new, scientists still aren't sure about the big picture yet, but they do have a few recommendations.
Fiber is key, as it feeds the bacteria, which release nutrients that nourish the gut. But a fiber supplement isn't the answer:
There are a lot of different ways to get fiber. [Microbiome researcher Jeff] Leach recommends getting it from vegetables. Eat a variety of veggies, and eat the whole thing, he recommends. "If you're going to eat asparagus, eat the whole plant, not just the tips," he says.
→ Read more: Can We Eat Our Way To A Healthier Microbiome? - NPR
Garlic and leeks in particular contain a form of fiber called inulin, which feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Garlic also has antimicrobial properties which may attack the bad bacteria in our bodies. And as you've probably heard, fermented foods like kimchi and yogurt may also contribute to the health of our microbiome.