Keto has been clinically studied to help support weight issues, insulin sensitivity, brain activity and moods but did you know that it can also have huge effects on our gut health and microbiome.
One of the best parts about eating all that non-starchy produce on keto diets is the prebiotic fibre you get from them- prebiotics are fibres that feed probiotics. You need both for a healthy gut microbiome. Most only get a mere 10-15 grams, which is far less even than the low recommended daily intake of 30 grams. This leaves your good gut bacteria starving without the nutrients they need, making it that much harder for them to colonize your gut microbiome and crowd out the bad bacteria. While prebiotic fibre is your good bacteria’s favourite food, the not-so-good really go for refined sugar and processed foods––these feed unwanted bacteria, making it easier for them to get out of control and take over your microbiome. Even worse, certain types of sweeteners and processed foods actually harm your beneficial bacteria, which tip the scales even further. Since sugar and processed foods are pretty much off the table with my keto diets, you don’t have to worry too much there. Focus on an abundance of veg- leafy greens, asparagus, artichokes, dandelion leaves, leeks, garlic, onion and clean proteins. Try and stay clear of anything packaged and processed.
Two of the main foods associated with a weak gut barrier are grains and beans. Many grains contain gluten, which can trigger the extensive immune system in your gut to go into overdrive, attacking itself. Gluten also triggers the production of zonulin, a protein that breaks down the connections between the cells of your intestinal walls. Additionally, grains and beans are high in lectins and phytic acid, both of which can damage your gut barrier unless you prepare these foods in very specific ways (soaking for hours). Since neither grains nor beans make up a large part of the keto diet, people who eat this way sidestep this potential issue.
What’s more, the good fats you get on these diets can encourage your intestinal cells to release a protein that reduces temporary bouts of inflammation that can damage your gut lining, and they can also support the growth of bacteria that strengthen the tight junctions between the cells of your gut barrier.
Take a good quality probiotic to support your body when following a keto diet and be sure to include lots of probiotic and prebiotic “friendly” foods. There are clearly huge benefits to shifting your dietary balance more in favour of fats and proteins and less in favour of carbs from grains, legumes, and sugar, so it’s really worth tweaking a couple of dietary changes.
Your microbes will certainly thank you for it, and you might be surprised by how you feel after a few weeks of giving your gut the type of nutrition and support it needs to truly thrive.