OPINION

The importance of a healthy microbiota or 'gut garden'

GUT GARDEN: A microbiota with numerous bacteria species is considered a healthy one. A varied, nutritious diet is the way to go. Picture: Shutterstock.
GUT GARDEN: A microbiota with numerous bacteria species is considered a healthy one. A varied, nutritious diet is the way to go. Picture: Shutterstock.

Can I offer you a banana, or a nice piece of Jerusalem artichoke?

No thanks. Besides, you've had enough for both of us. It's as if you're eating for two.

Actually, I'm eating for trillions.

I'm not sure if I should offer congratulations, or edge slowly and carefully towards the door.

Chill out! I am simply caring for my microbiota.

Remind me again exactly what that is.

The microbiota - or microbiome - is the colony of bacteria in your large intestine. There are trillions of them, and they can weigh as much as two kilos.

Microbiota is sometimes referred to as your "gut garden". I prefer to consider it an exclusive nightclub.

Jeepers! That's like an entire chihuahua in my gut.

More like a garden. In fact, the microbiota is sometimes referred to as your "gut garden". I prefer to consider it an exclusive nightclub.

Good bacteria, come on in and take a seat in my large intestine's VIP section. Bad bacteria: sorry sir, you're not on the list.

What happens if the bad bacteria get past the doorman?

Bloating, gas, stomach upsets, fatigue, and possibly some other, deeper problems. Research shows that a healthy microbiota can aid in immune system functions, help maintain a healthy weight and even improve symptoms of depression.

More lifestyle:

So how is your body's big bug party going?

I'm feeding the good guys with bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, berries, oats and more of their favourite foods with dietary fibres containing prebiotics.

Not probiotics?

No. Probiotics are the good bacteria. You should eat foods containing these, too: yoghurts and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir. And then, when those good bugs take up residence in your gut, you feed them prebiotics so they'll be happy and make more good bacteria.

Do the bad bugs have favourite foods too?

No surprises here - they thrive on sugar and saturated fat. Go crazy on the junk food and your microbiota could turn from party to prison riot.

I don't need that kind of vibe in my inner sanctum. What's your top tip?

Just like in the real world, diversity is good.

A microbiota with numerous bacteria species is considered a healthy one. A varied, nutritious diet is the way to go.

Suddenly my stomach is churning. I think there's a battle happening in there. Quick - pass me a banana.

This story Come on into the VIP section good bacteria first appeared on The Canberra Times.