Today’s Solutions: June 07, 2023

Your gut microbiome contains trillions of bacteria unique to you, making gut health practices extremely personal. What works for one person may not work for another. 

“No two guts are the same,” says board-certified internist Vincent Pedre, M.D., author of The GutSMART Protocol. “So how can their diets be the same?” he asks. While it’s critical to find the gut-supporting practices that work best for your body and lifestyle, following Pedre’s top three “rules” is a stellar first step to optimal gut health.

Eat more fermented foods

It’s pretty well known that fermented foods are great for gut health, but according to Pedre, it’s especially important to prioritize fermented foods over fiber foods for individuals with weak stomachs.

Pedre cites a study that assessed microbial diversity in those who ate five to eight servings of fiber vs six cups of fermented foods. “A high-fermented-foods diet increased microbial diversity in that group and lowered 19 inflammatory markers,” he notes. The fiber-rich group had good benefits on microbial function and immune response, but it’s intriguing that fermented foods had such a substantial effect on inflammation. 

This is not to say that fiber should be avoided. “I hate that they pitted fiber-rich [foods] against high-fermented [foods]” Pedre says. “I think there should have been a third group where there was diet intervention so we could see these two against that as well,” he continues. “I don’t think it’s about fiber versus fermented. It’s really about the combination of the two.”

The lesson? You may want to eat more fermented foods before fiber to reduce inflammation and enhance microbial diversity before feeding your gut, but both food groups are crucial for gut health. 

If you can tolerate dairy, eat it seasonally

Some folks simply cannot tolerate any type of dairy. But have you ever observed that you can tolerate, if not crave, dairy products at different seasons of the year? 

It’s very normal, according to Pedre. He reports that he “stay[s] away from dairy in the fall, winter, and spring.” Why? After years of research, he discovered that dairy increases his inflammatory levels throughout those seasons—but not in the summer.

The study on dairy and inflammation is still unclear. Some claim that dairy meals do not increase biomarkers of chronic inflammation, but others claim that milk consumption increases IGF-1 levels and causes acne. 

Either way, it’s always important to listen to your own body. Do you feel bloated or congested after eating dairy? It’s critical “to start to see those patterns because they can be super subtle,” Pedre says. “Dairy could work for you at certain times of the year, and at other times of the year, it’s not going to work for you as well.” Our bodies are active and adaptive; we only need to pay attention to them.

Poop every single day

How frequently do you poop? According to Pedre, if you have a healthy gut, you probably empty once a day. He adds that if you have a really powerful gastrocolic response, you may poop three times a day—once after each meal. 

“And it’s got to be a satisfying, full poop because you could be going daily but not emptying completely,” he shares. You can still relieve yourself every day and be constipated—what Pedre is talking about is a full bowel movement. 

“Pooping is essential to detoxing the body, and the longer you retain your poop, the more likely that toxins that have been packaged ready to be moved out of your body are going to have more time to recirculate and get reabsorbed back into your body,” Pedre adds. 

Do you need help in this department? Consume additional fiber, supplement with probiotics, and drink plenty of water.

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