The keto diet is intrinsically a superb plan for promoting gut health. Naturally, most people wonder what the keto diet gut health benefits are on a more scientific level, which is exactly what this article will detail.
You will also learn exactly what the human gut microbiome is and why it’s so crucial to health and longevity.
The Role of Your Gut for Optimizing Health & Longevity
Naturally, you are likely curious what you should be eating on the keto diet for gut health benefits. After all, your gut directly impacts your ability to lose weight (body fat), build muscle, stay healthy, and much more.
Before diving into what the best keto diet gut health foods are, let’s take a quick look at what the gut microbiome actually is.
Understanding the Human Gut Microbiome
Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to the human gut microbiome – which comprises every single microbial organism living in your gut. For the average individual, there are upwards of three pounds of microbes residing in the GI tract. (Crazy, right?) These microbes can be very much in symbiosis with us humans.
Most of the population assumes that bacteria are unhealthy microbes; in truth, bacteria are necessary for our survival as research shows they impact a multitude of functions in the body and brain.
For example, healthy gut microbes are essential for optimizing your digestive function and capability to absorb nutrients; they also have been demonstrated to positively regulate endocrine function, genetics, immune function, and even cognitive processes.
For example, a recent study shows that the stress response of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) – which regulates the production of hormones like cortisol – can be effectively inhibited by Lactobacillus farciminis.
Yes, those tiny little bacteria living inside your gut are much more crucial to your well-being than you ever imagined. (And you’re equally as important to their survival by feeding them.)
By the same token, “bad” bacteria in your gut can increase oxidative stress, inflammation, and damage organs. The key is that you nourish the “good” bacteria and starve the “bad” bacteria.
Inside the Numbers
By a landslide margin, the bacteria in your GI tract are the most abundant partition of the human gut microbiome (with estimates of over 100 trillion bacterial cells and hundreds of species).
For reference of how enormous that number is, it’s roughly 10 times the number of human cells throughout your entire body.
Hence, when you see a probiotic supplement that has 10 billion colony-forming units (CFU) per pill, that is still a tiny portion of how many bacteria reside in your gut. The sheer quantity of bacteria that live inside you is quite a biological wonder when you really think about it.
Keto Diet Gut Health: Which Foods are the Best?
Intuitively, your diet must incorporate foods that nourish healthy gut bacteria while starving “bad” bacteria. In general, unhealthy gut bacteria feed off sugars. Healthy gut bacteria tend to flourish off prebiotic fibers.
Most fitness enthusiasts incorrectly assume that the keto diet is just a means to an end. Thus, if they aren’t eating too many carbs while meeting their protein and fat needs, everything else is water under the bridge. In reality, that is an awful way of approaching your diet.
I realize that eating bacon and eggs five times per day might be great for keeping your carb intake low on the keto diet, but your body needs more than just protein and fat.
It behooves you to think more about the food and nutrients you eat in terms of their biological functions. After all, the food you eat should be much more than merely a source of macronutrients and calories.
Therefore, a cerebral approach to the keto diet will also prioritize foods and nutrients that optimally support your gut microbiome.
There is still much that remains unclear about the precise mechanisms gut microbes partake in to enhance human health; however, it appears that they affect us primarily by metabolizing certain dietary fibers and digestive-resistant starches into short-chain fatty acids (which may then induce or inhibit certain cellular receptors).
Keto Diet Gut Health Foods
Each food below is keto-friendly and chosen for what it does in your body; these foods should be staples in your keto diet; they benefit your health/wellness by nourishing healthy microbes in your gut. (Even just a few servings per day will suffice.)
|Gut-Nourishing Foods||Why You Need It|
|Leafy and Cruciferous Vegetables||If you had the chance to read our Best Low Carb Veggies article, you’re already well aware of the benefits of produce like broccoli, cabbage, and spinach. Leafy and cruciferous vegetables are packed with micronutrients and gut-promoting dietary fibers. It behooves anyone on the keto diet to incorporate several servings of these throughout their day.|
|Fresh Beans (Soak and boil)||Beans, especially red beans, kidney beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans, derive nearly half of their overall carb content from dietary fiber. Moreover, beans are rather simple to add to pretty much any entree (or use in a recipe). Be careful though, beans can knock you out of ketosis if you eat them in large quantities.|
|Psyllium Husk||Psyllium husk is a dietary fiber from the seeds of Plantago ovata plants. You can commonly find psyllium in products like Metamucil. Psyllium gives food and liquid more viscous quality and has many benefits for gut health. We recommend buying pure psyllium husk powder, which is available at a variety of health-food stores.|
|Inulin FOS||Inulin is a gut-nourishing fiber occurring in a variety of plant species (especially the root of chicory). Inulin is a dense source of special fibers known as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which have been shown to enhance blood lipid profiles, immune function, micronutrient absorption, and support growth of healthy gut bacteria.|
Since you’re on the keto diet, consuming adequate dietary fiber should be quite simple (especially if you eat the foods recommended herein). For the average individual on the keto diet, about 20-30 grams of dietary fiber per day should help encourage healthy gut microbiome balance.
If you’re able to eat more carbs while staying in ketosis, feel free to consume more dietary fiber. (Some people might benefit from 50+ grams of fiber per day.)
New scientific investigation in the coming years will help uncover the underlying mechanisms behind keto diet gut health benefits. This is why it’s essential to keep your eyes on BioKeto to stay caught up on all things keto!