The microscopic organisms that live within our digestive system are on the move. They’re in a constant cycle of growth, death, and adaptation. The adaptation part is crucial. It’s how tiny critters like bacteria maintain survival. And it happens very rapidly.
Scientists once thought that making a change to the human gut microbiome might take days, weeks, or even months to achieve. But new research shows that the change starts happening way more quickly than previously thought—within hours!
Making a change
Researchers have known for a long time that diet plays a major role in shaping the bacteria that live in our guts. Someone with a high-carb, meat-based diet will have a very different gut microbiome than a vegan, for example. What’s surprising is just how fast diet impacts the gut ecosystem. It’s very possible that changes to your diet right now can improve the balance of bacteria in your gut within just a few days.
Want to give it a shot? Pick six consecutive calendar days to embark on a microbiome-friendly diet. The rules are pretty straightforward:
- Eat a lot more plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
- Drink more water. Aim for at least 1 liter per day.
- Limit meat to just 3 – 4 ounces per serving, about the size of a deck of cards.
- Add more fiber to your diet: lentils, berries, whole-grain breads, brown rice.
- Cut way back on processed and fried foods (Rule of thumb: Eat food that looks like it came from a farm, not a factory.)
- Cut way back on sugar.
- Don’t drink alcohol.
The best way to track changes to your microbiome would be with a scientific analysis of your stool before and after starting the diet. But this isn’t feasible for most people. There is a more practical way to see if it’s working: check your poop. Within six days of following the above tips, most people notice a marked improvement in regularity and stool consistency.
Keep in mind, the tips above are general guidelines. Ask your doctor or nutrition expert for personalized advice on the best ways to improve your symptoms with nutrition therapy.