If you feel like you’re eating all the right stuff, but to no avail, your microbiome, the newly discovered ecosystem of bacteria living in your gut, may be out of whack. Fuel it and you’ll improve digestion, beat bloat, and boost your metabolism.
While probiotics encourage the growth of good bacteria, prebiotics feed the ones you already have. When you eat prebiotic foods like onions and leeks, they produce butyrate, a metabolic wonder drug that improves insulin sensitivity and increases the amount of fat you burn, says Rafael Kellman, M.D., author of The Microbiome Diet. Now that it’s summer, pop either on the grill to bring out their sweetness. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and cook until golden.
Like onions and leeks, these green veggies are prebiotic foods that produce acetate, an acid that turns on the fat-burning activity in your cells by helping them recover from inflammation.
You know that choosing the right types of fats is key, and here’s why: Unhealthy fats, found in processed foods, meats, and cheeses, feed the type of bacteria that spark inflammation and cue your body to store fat. But healthy fats high in omega 3s and 6s—like those in avocado, nuts, and olive—do the opposite. They provide long-burning energy by regulating how quickly glucose enters your cells, keeping hunger at bay.
It seems counterintuitive to feed the microbiome foods with antimicrobial properties, but studies show that garlic only goes after bad, inflammation-causing bacteria while leaving good bacteria intact. It’s also rich in inulin, the fiber that helps the body digest food more efficiently and steadies blood sugar. Add fresh chopped garlic to tomato-mozzarella salads and stir-fries, or sprinkle garlic powder onto meats and fish before grilling.
Craving something sweet? This fruit—along with colorful radishes, tomatoes, and carrots—contains arabinogalactans, a plant-based fiber and prebiotic that feeds the friendly bacteria that help your metabolism function optimally. The fiber also kills E. coli and klebsiella—two types of bad bacteria associated with carrying excess weight.
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