How Intermittent Fasting Can Affect Your Gut Microbiome

How Intermittent Fasting Can Affect Your Gut Microbiome

Intermittent fasting has become one of the trendiest ways to lose weight. However–much more than a fad diet–this way of structured eating has been around for thousands of years, dating back to Ayurvedic and ancient Chinese medicine techniques. 

Although there is plenty of scientific evidence pointing to the health benefits of intermittent fasting, gut microbiome improvements from fasting have been somewhat overlooked. People who practice intermittent fasting usually do it for weight-loss reasons and seldom for improved gut health. 

But what if I told you that following an intermittent fasting regime could help you lose weight, reduce inflammation, and prevent diseases such as IBS, autoimmune diseases, and cancer? This and more is what an improved gut microbiome could get you. Keep reading to learn more about how intermittent fasting can affect your gut microbiome.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a way of patterned eating where periods of eating and periods of fasting are cycled. Practicing IF doesn’t restrict the types of food you can eat, only when you can eat them. 

Some of the most common types of IF are:

  • 16/8. This is a daily form of IF that allows you to eat unrestricted for eight consecutive hours of a 24-hour period while fasting for the other 16 hours.
  • 24-hour fasts. This type of fasting calls for one or two 24-hour periods of complete fasting per week.
  • 5:2 fast. Allows you to eat normally five days a week while restricting your caloric intake to around 500 calories on two days of the week.

By far, the most common type of fasting is the 16/8 rule. Most people find that this is the easiest way to integrate IF into their routines. It’s also one of the most heavily-studied methods, with clinical studies showing improved health in 16/8 IF practitioners. 

Can Intermittent Fasting Help You Improve Your Gut Health?

Intermittent fasting is an easily-overlooked way to improve gut health. While healing an unhealthy gut does involve changes in diet, it also involves many lifestyle changes. 

One of the biggest benefits of intermittent fasting is that it gives your gut a chance to rest. As you may recall, the enteric nervous system (ENS) is composed of millions of nerve cells that line our intestines and regulate physiological functions related to digestion and nutrient absorption. It helps your digestive system catch a break and thus function more optimally during feeding periods.

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that time-restricted eating improves microbiome diversity. The study concluded that the group that practiced intermittent fasting experienced increased bacterial richness compared to the group that did not practice intermittent fasting. 

The study deduced that intermittent fasting is able to improve gut health by reducing metabolic risk through an altered circadian rhythm. This can be an effective way to prevent gut dysbiosis and its many negative consequences. 

What to Eat During Intermittent Fasting for Improved Gut Health

While intermittent fasting does not require any specialized diets during regular feeding hours, you should try to follow a diet that promotes a healthy gut. You can boost your microbiome by following these simple diet tips. 

Fermented Foods 

When people think of gut health, probiotics are likely the first thing to come to mind. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics and can help introduce new bacteria species into your gut, thus increasing your microbiome diversity. 

Try including more of the following fermented foods in your diet for improved gut health:

  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Kefir

Next time you visit the supermarket, try substituting yogurt with kefir, juice with kombucha, and salsa with kimchi. Your gut will thank you! 

Plant Fiber

You can think of plant fiber as food for your bacteria. While most people have heard of probiotics, not everyone is familiar with prebiotics and how they differ from probiotics. In short, probiotics are foods that contain healthy bacteria, while prebiotics are foods that the bacteria in your gut can eat to stay healthy. 

When it comes to gut health, you always want to keep your gut bacteria as healthy and happy as possible. Make sure your diet includes a wide variety of:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Your digestive health will improve tremendously thanks to all the extra fiber, and you’ll keep your gut guests happy and thriving!

Eat According to Your Microbiome

Gut health science has improved tremendously over the past few years. This has made gut health testing much more accessible than ever before. Today, you can order a Gut Health Test Kit and get a detailed breakdown of your gut microbiome along with customized instructions on what to eat for improved gut health. 

OSbiome offers affordable gut health test kits that will help you bypass the trial-and-error phase and jump straight into eating exactly what your body needs. With our 15 proprietary health scores, our free one-on-one session with a nutritionist, and customized nutrition plans, you can count on feeding your gut exactly what it needs for improved gut health.