While fermented foods and probiotic supplements can give you fabulous gut health benefits, if you aren’t also feeding those intestinal bacteria what they want, you might as well be pouring your money down the drain. Why? To thrive and multiply, healthy gut bacteria need to eat, and what they want is fiber. Recently published research done at the University of Oveido in Spain found that obese people with low levels of a group of intestinal bacteria — Bacteroides, Prevotella, and Porphyromonas — also had a lower intake of fruit. Fruit is a good source of pectin, which is metabolized in the colon by bacteria such as Bacteroides. These bacteria create small chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are known to keep the immune system balanced and moderate inflammation, known to be implicated in obesity. The researchers conclude in the journal Nutrients, “These results could be useful for designing strategies targeted to obesity prevention.” Knowing how to support your gut bacteria properly can give you another fat-burning tool when you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid. Due to the connection between the gut and the brain, healthy gut bacteria also help protect and improve brain health and modulate the immune system — important aids in successfully managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid. Hashimoto’s? Feed your microbiome prebiotics! Prebiotics are the substances that intestinal bacteria feed on. Researchers have yet to agree on a precise definition of prebiotics, but the scientists generally agree that these are “undigested dietary carbohydrates that are fermented by colonic bacteria yielding short chain fatty acids.” The jury is still out on the details, but researchers know that different prebiotics may nourish different types of bacteria. Any way you look at it, you’d be covering your bases by eating a wide array of fruits and vegetables. A high fiber diet has often been recommended for weight loss because it makes you feel full, but now we know that fiber also plays an integral role in sustaining a healthy diversity of gut bacteria. Meanwhile, the opposite — an unhealthy gut environment — is being increasingly associated with inflammation and obesity. If you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid, eating plenty of vegetables is especially good for you, because not only do they provide ample fiber and prebiotics, they also are loaded with various vitamins, minerals, and compounds that provide key nourishment for your cells. Probiotics are key for supporting gut bacteria In addition to a diet of plentiful and diverse produce rich in prebiotic fiber, it’s key to support your microbiota with probiotics. Probiotics work best when you are already supporting your gut bacteria with healthy prebiotic fiber. Seek out probiotics that will survive the acidic environment of the gut. Many different strains exist and research shows that different strains support different aspects of health. Find out which ones may be best for you and rotate the variety on occasion for the best gut support. Fermented foods such as kimchee, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha contain live microbes that can help support your gut environment. Typically found in the refrigerated section at the store, make sure to get live products, not pasteurized. Ask my office for more advice on building good gut health and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid.