Build intestinal flora: Certain foods improve the intestinal microbiome

Build intestinal flora: Certain foods improve the intestinal microbiome

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Impact of nutrition on the gut microbiome

A recent study shows that certain foods can protect the intestines particularly well by allowing bacteria with anti-inflammatory properties to thrive. Such nutritional patterns could benefit patients with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome in particular, but the general population also benefits from an intact intestinal flora.

Researchers at the University Medical Center Groningen have found that certain foods such as legumes, bread, fish, nuts and wine are associated with a high proportion of healthy intestinal bacteria. The bacteria support the biosynthesis of essential nutrients and the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which in turn serve as the main energy source for cells that line the intestine. Nutritional therapy could thus be an effective management strategy to treat and prevent bowel disease. The results were recently presented at the "United European Gastroenterology" congress.

61 foods for healthier intestinal flora

The research team observed four study groups: one group had Crohn's disease, another had ulcerative colitis, one had irritable bowel syndrome and another group had no bowel problems. The nutritional patterns of the individual participants were recorded and stool samples analyzed. From the results, 61 individual foods crystallized that exert a positive influence on the intestinal bacteria.

Bread, legumes, fish and nuts

As the researchers found, eating patterns that are rich in bread, legumes, fish, and nuts are associated with a decline in potentially harmful aerobic bacteria. A higher consumption of these foods was also associated with a lower content of inflammatory substances in the stool, which are considered to trigger intestinal inflammation.

Overview of further results

In addition, the analysis concluded that

  • Larger amounts of meat, fast food and refined sugar lead to a decrease in beneficial intestinal bacteria and an increase in inflammatory substances in the stool.
  • Red wine, legumes, vegetables, fruits, cereals, fish and nuts promote bacteria with anti-inflammatory functions.
  • vegetable protein supports the biosynthesis of vitamins and amino acids as well as the breakdown of sugar alcohols.

What influence does the intestinal flora have on health?

The gut microbiome has recently been examined by numerous studies. It was found that the microbial population living in the intestine affects health far more than previously thought. Among other things, the intestinal flora is said to influence the immune system, the metabolism and neuro-behavior-related factors. Links to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriatic arthritis, diabetes, neurodermatitis, celiac disease and arterial stiffness have also been identified.

Nutritional therapy for the intestine

“We looked closely at the relationship between nutritional patterns or individual foods and the gut microbiome,” reports lead researcher Laura Bolte. The study gives a deeper insight into how the diet affects the intestine and intestinal diseases. The results suggest that an appropriate diet could be an effective and serious treatment for bowel disease.

Which diet is the healthiest for the gut?

Overall, the nutritionist suggests a diet that is characterized by nuts, fruits, a larger amount of vegetables and legumes, combined with a moderate consumption of animal foods such as fish, lean meat, poultry, fermented low-fat milk products and occasionally a glass of red wine. The intake of red meat, fast food and processed meat such as sausages as well as sweets and refined sugar should be kept as low as possible. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • EurekAlert: Plant-based foods and Mediterranean diet associated with healthy gut microbiome (accessed: October 21, 2019),
  • Bolte, L. et al. 2019. Towards anti-inflammatory dietary recommendations based on the relation between food and the gut microbiome composition in 1423 individuals. Presented at UEG Week Barcelona October 21, 2019

Video: Human Gut Microbiome (February 2023).