Your gut is home to hundreds of trillions (yes, trillions) of different bacteria, and feeling your best relies on a delicate balance of good to bad. If you don’t have enough good bacteria, the bad microbes are left to their own devices and can begin to shift the balance or, worse yet, dominate. When this happens, one of the best ways to restore balance is increasing the good bacteria in your gut. Here are 10 ways you can do that naturally:

Eat a variety of foods.

Diet diversity, or the variety of foods you eat, plays a huge role in the number of good bacteria in your gut. One of the best things you can do for your gut is get out of your dietary comfort zone and eat a wider variety of foods, from all different food groups. The TL;DR? The more diverse your diet is, the more diverse your gut microbiome will be. Try to switch up the types of foods you eat weekly.

Make plants a priority.

When thinking about diet diversity, you also want to consider the amount of plant foods you’re eating. Plants contain fibers (including prebiotic fibers), phytochemicals, and an array of macro- and micronutrients. All of these support a healthy balance in your gut by feeding good bacteria, starving out bad bacteria, and delivering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to the gut and beyond1.

Cruciferous vegetables2 like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, specifically, have unique compounds called glucosinolates that are metabolized by bacteria and promote the growth and balance of good bacteria in your gut. Pay attention to volume (eating more plants in general), as well as the variety (again, eating different types of plants regularly). Don’t get into a rut where you only eat broccoli and sweet potatoes.

Add fermented foods.

Fermented foods are made with the help of bacteria and yeasts. The bacteria and yeast break the food down, creating more good bacteria, boosting the bioavailability of nutrients3, and reducing anti-nutrients, or compounds that can interfere with adequate absorption of vitamins and minerals. “These probiotic-rich foods help crowd out unfavorable bacteria or yeast,” says board-certified internist Vincent M. Pedre, M.D., and including them in your diet can help support gut balance. Just 2 tablespoons of sauerkraut contain 1 million colony-forming units (or CFUs) of good bacteria, and not only that: A study published in PLOS One4 found that fermented foods like sauerkraut are resistant to lower pH, like stomach acid, so they are able to successfully make the journey from your mouth, through your stomach, and into your small intestine where they colonize and grow.

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