I remember the first time that I heard the term “probiotic.” I was amazed to learn about “good gut bacteria” that help our body digest food, assist in making B vitamins and vitamin K, and fight against aggressive disease-causing bacteria. Fascinating.
According to a recent article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, people with normal digestion tend to have different types of gut bacteria than people with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. Our ability to gain or lose weight may even be influenced by the type and amount of bacteria in our intestines, according to preliminary research. Wow.
So what do bacteria in our intestines have to do with nutrition? Plenty. The foods we eat affect the flora that grows in our gut. And the flora that grows in our gut can impact our health, say researchers.
All gut bacteria is not created equal, however. People who eat a high fiber diet, for example — rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, and nuts — have a more diverse variety of gut microflora, according to nutrition professor Megan Baumler, PhD, RD. A thriving assortment of these microorganisms in the gut is considered very beneficial.
— Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian.