The Gut Microbiota for Health meeting (Barcelona, Spain, March 13-15) particularly emphasized the applications of gut microbiota science. Scientists haven’t yet identified the ‘healthiest’ microbial composition, but what’s clear so far is that a diverse colonizing microbiota is important: more diversity means greater resilience, with the potential to make you generally healthier and able to resist specific diseases.

With input from other GMFH board members, I have created a list of practical recommendations which, to the best of our current knowledge, increase the diversity of microbes colonizing your gut:

  • Eat a diverse diet
  • Consume fermented foods with live microbes; they have at least a transient effect
  • Eat washed raw fruits and vegetables, which harbor environmental microbes (not recommended if you have difficulties digesting raw vegetables)
  • Consider consuming probiotic-containing foods/supplements; look up the controlled trials for evidence of health benefits from specific probiotics
  • Consume adequate levels of diverse types of fiber, including prebiotics, to promote a diverse microbiota; this might mean consuming 2-3 kinds of fruits or vegetables in one sitting
  • Breast feed your baby; breast milk contains live microbes and a rich supply of oligosaccharides that appear to enrich good bacteria in the baby’s gut
  • Avoid elective caesarean births; if one is medically necessary, talk to your pediatrician about swabbing the newborn with mom’s vaginal flora, as in a procedure being investigated by Maria Gloria Dominguez Bello
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotics
  • Wash hands with soap and water instead of sanitizing
  • Live on a farm, or at least have a dog or two; this seems especially beneficial for children if started when they are babies

And if you want to know more about the world inside you, check out these non-profit projects, which allow you to get your microbiota assayed and compare your microbial diversity to others in the project: