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  • Trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi live on or inside of us,

  • and maintaining a good, balanced relationship with them

  • is to our advantage.

  • Together, they form the gut microbiome,

  • a rich ecosystem that performs a variety of functions in our bodies.

  • The bacteria in our guts can break down food the body can't digest,

  • produce important nutrients,

  • regulate the immune system,

  • and protect against harmful germs.

  • We don't yet have the blueprint

  • for exactly which good bacteria a robust gut needs,

  • but we do know that it's important for a healthy microbiome

  • to have a variety of bacterial species.

  • Many factors affect our microbiomes,

  • including our environment,

  • medications like antibiotics,

  • and even whether we were delivered by C-section or not.

  • Diet, too, is emerging as one of the leading influences

  • on the health of our guts.

  • And while we can't control all these factors,

  • we can manipulate the balance of our microbes

  • by paying attention to what we eat.

  • Dietary fiber from foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains

  • is the best fuel for gut bacteria.

  • When bacteria digest fiber,

  • they produce short chain fatty acids that nourish the gut barrier,

  • improve immune function,

  • and can help prevent inflammation, which reduces the risk of cancer.

  • And the more fiber you ingest,

  • the more fiber-digesting bacteria colonize your gut.

  • In a recent study, scientists exchanged the regular high-fiber diets

  • of a group of rural South Africans

  • with the high-fat, meat-heavy diets of a group of African-Americans.

  • After just two weeks on the high-fat, low-fiber, Western-style diet,

  • the rural African group showed increased inflammation of the colon,

  • as well as a decrease of butyrate.

  • That's a short chain fatty acid thought to lower risk of colon cancer.

  • Meanwhile, the group that switched to a high-fiber, low-fat diet

  • had the opposite result.

  • So what goes wrong with our gut bacteria when we eat low-fiber processed foods?

  • Lower fiber means less fuel for the gut bacteria,

  • essentially starving them until they die off.

  • This results in less diversity

  • and hungry bacteria.

  • In fact, some can even start to feed on the mucus lining.

  • We also know that specific foods can affect gut bacteria.

  • In one recent microbiome study,

  • scientists found that fruits,

  • vegetables,

  • tea,

  • coffee,

  • red wine,

  • and dark chocolate

  • were correlated with increased bacterial diversity.

  • These foods contain polyphenols,

  • which are naturally occurring antioxidant compounds.

  • On the other hand,

  • foods high in dairy fat,

  • like whole milk and sugar-sweetened sodas,

  • were correlated with decreased diversity.

  • How food is prepared also matters.

  • Minimally processed, fresh foods generally have more fiber

  • and provide better fuel.

  • So lightly steamed,

  • sautéed,

  • or raw vegetables

  • are typically more beneficial than fried dishes.

  • There are also ways of preparing food that can actually introduce good bacteria,

  • also known as probiotics, into your gut.

  • Fermented foods are teeming with helpful probiotic bacteria,

  • like lactobacillus

  • and bifidobacteria.

  • Originally used as a way of preserving foods

  • before the invention of refrigeration,

  • fermentation remains a traditional practice all over the world.

  • Foods like kimchi,

  • sauerkraut,

  • tempeh,

  • and kombucha

  • provide variety and vitality to our diets.

  • Yogurt is another fermented food that can introduce helpful bacteria into our guts.

  • That doesn't necessarily mean that all yogurt is good for us, though.

  • Brands with too much sugar and not enough bacteria

  • may not actually help.

  • These are just general guidelines.

  • More research is needed before we fully understand

  • exactly how any of these foods interact with our microbiomes.

  • We see positive correlations,

  • but the insides of our guts are difficult places to make direct observations.

  • For instance, we don't currently know

  • whether these foods are directly responsible for the changes in diversity,

  • or if something more complicated is happening.

  • While we're only beginning to explore the vast wilderness inside our guts,

  • we already have a glimpse of how crucial our microbiomes are for digestive health.

  • The great news is we have the power to fire up the bacteria in our bellies.

  • Fill up on fibers,

  • fresh and fermented foods,

  • and you can trust your gut to keep you going strong.

Trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi live on or inside of us,

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TED-Ed】食べたものが腸に与える影響 - Shilpa Ravella (【TED-Ed】How the food you eat affects your gut - Shilpa Ravella)

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