Food is not only sustenance for the body, but also an essential element for the mind for increased focus. You can observe that it’s more difficult to concentrate when you are hungry.
While all foods can make us feel full and satisfy our hunger, not all food is good for increased focus. Hence, you have to choose the right brain food for you to stay sharp.
Gut Health and How it Affects You
The gastrointestinal system, known as the digestive system, gastrointestinal tract, or gut, is a set of organs that starts from the mouth and to the esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, colon, small intestine and rectum. It serves as the body’s primary site of taking in and digesting nutrients.
The gut microbiome of gut flora encompasses trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses co-exist with our cells. The human body is dependent on these bacteria to help digest food, produce certain vitamins, and regulate the immune system.
These critters’ responsibility does not limit to digestive purposes. The significance of gut health expenses from less susceptibility to sickness, better emotional well-being, and brain health.
According to research in animals, changes in the gut flora such as inflammation of the gut can also affect the brain and cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, autism, anxiety, and depression.
Alongside exercise, stress reduction, and avoidance of unnecessary antibiotics, a healthier diet could restore the balance in the gut flora.
The microbiome diet is a popular method that mainly helps restore your gut health.
The Microbiome Diet
The microbiome diet is a recognized diet developed by Dr. Raphael Kellman, an Internal Medicine Specialist in New York, and author of The Microbiome Diet.
This diet highlights the consumption of nutritional foods that help maintain the balance in the gut microbiome. Dr. Kellman asserts that a healthy gut is key to overall health and even weight loss. The principle of this diet is straightforward: First, consume foods that restore balance and improve gut health; second, avoid foods that cause harm and imbalance in the gut flora.
It encompasses three phases that go less restrictive over time:
Phase 1: The 4Rs
The first phase lasts 21 days. The goal here is to remove unhealthy bacteria and to repopulate your gut with healthy ones. This follows the 4Rs:
- Remove the unhealthy bacteria.
- Replace stomach acid and digestive enzymes.
- Reinoculate with probiotics (good bacteria) and prebiotics (substances that feed healthy bacteria).
- Repair the lining of your intestinal walls.
This phase follows rigid food restrictions for the gut to recover. In this duration, you will have to avoid processed foods, canned goods, sugars, dairy products and eggs, gluten, and alcohol.
Phase 2: Your Metabolic Boost Meal Plan
Phase 2 offers a small window for food choices now that your gut has recovered in Phase 1.
Unlike the first phase with strict restrictions, this plan only requires 90% compliance for the next four weeks to boost your metabolism. The 10% window serves as a breather for foods such as dairy products, eggs, and meat.
Phase 3: Your Lifetime Tune-Up to Maintain Healthy Weight for Life
The final phase only requires 70% compliance for maintenance, making it more sustainable in the long run.
This means that there is more room for eating preferences, although it should be noted that foods such as sugary and processed foods must consistently be avoided.
Foods that Help Restore Gut Health
Kick start your microbiome diet by incorporating the following foods in your diet:
Fiber-rich foods help reduce the risk of metabolic diseases and gut inflammation.
A study suggests that higher consumption of dietary fiber reduces the risk of developing several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
High dietary fiber intake is also associated with lower body weights due to its increased satiety effect. The daily recommended fiber intake for male adults 19 to 50 years old is 38 grams to get the most out of its benefits.
Load up on these high-fiber foods to ensure that you hit the daily fiber goals:
Fruits and Vegetables
Raspberries, pear, apple, banana, orange, green peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potato with skin, and cauliflower.
Whole-wheat spaghetti, popcorn, and brown rice, barley, oatmeal, quinoa, and bran flakes.
Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes
Split peas, lentils, sunflower kernels, pistachios, black beans, chia seeds, and almonds.
Fermented products have essential health benefits on general health and brain functionality.
Probiotics, also known as good bacteria, are present in fermented foods such as yogurt with live cultures and kifer. These active cultures found in fermented foods help increase the good bacteria in the digestive system.
Here are some of the most common fermented foods that help increase probiotics:
Kimchi is a staple side dish served in Korean households and restaurants. It is made by salting and fermenting vegetables such as napa cabbage and radish.
Miso is a Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans with koji and salt and occasionally with additional ingredients such as rice, barley, and seaweed.
Kombucha is a healthy drink made from sweetened black or green tea and then fermented with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, also known as SCOBY.
Sourdough bread is a healthier alternative to regular bread. It is more digestible, less likely to cause spike blood sugar levels, and helps promote the growth of good bacteria. Fermentation in sourdough occurs when yeast and bacteria from a paste produce lactic acid that gives it a more sour taste.
Tempeh or tempe is a traditional Indonesian soy product made from fermented soybeans and is often made in cake form. Tempeh can be eaten raw, boiled, fried, or added in salads.
Sauerkraut is thinly sliced raw cabbage, salted, and stored for two to three weeks known for its long shelf life. You can eat sauerkraut as it is, as salad dressing, or even sandwiches or wraps.
Fruits and Vegetables
Plant-based foods are highly beneficial to gut health because of these two main components: high fiber and prebiotics.
Fruits and vegetables such as artichokes, green peas, lentils, black and lima beans, almonds, raspberries, and apples contain prebiotics.
These compounds encourage the growth or activity of good bacteria and fungi.
Prebiotics are also present in garlic, onions, leeks, barley, and cocoa.
A healthier gastrointestinal tract is essential for the mind and body in sync.
Following the Microbiome diet is one of the ways to optimize your health and be selective of your overall consumption. After all, the adage, “You are what you eat.” holds plausible truth. Luckily, there are plenty of natural food sources easily accessible to restore gut health.
Got gut questions? Get support and insight from top-tier physicians, completely available for you 24/7. Take control of your well-being on your terms and convenience. Visit Opt Health for more.
National Library of Medicine: Strict Vegetarian Diet
MedlinePlus: High-fiber foods
Mental Health America: Mind and Gut Connection
Harvard School of Public Health
One Health, Fermented Foods, and Gut Microbiota
Mayo Clinic: Chart of High Fiber Foods