Feeding Your Gut: How to Cultivate a Happy Microbiome

Author: Angelique Bennett, Senior Gastroenterology Dietitian at Cork University Hospital

The foods we eat can have a significant impact on our health and our gut microbiome. Different types of foods can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can be helpful in preventing disease, can assist with mental health and general wellbeing. So, how can you nurture gut microbiome and reap the benefits of a happy gut? The key lies in what you put on your plate. 

Here’s a breakdown of the gut-friendly foods you should be feeding your microbiome:


Your gut microbes love a good source of dietary fibre, feeding our microbes and fuelling their growth. Think fruits and vegetables, wholegrains like oats and quinoa, and legumes like lentils and chickpeas. These foods all contain different types of fibres, which are beneficial in creating diversity in the gut. 

Tips to increase the fibre in your diet: 

  • Aim to start the day with a high fibre cereal such as porridge/ oats, Weetabix, multigrain cheerio’s, shredded wheat or bran flakes.
  • Add lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans to your pasta sauces, casseroles, curries and stews
  • Add nuts and seeds to your salads, breakfast or a small handful as a snack 
  • Swap processed grains (white bread, pasta, rice) to wholegrain options such as multigrain or wholemeal bread, quinoa, brown rice, wholemeal pasta and wholemeal wraps. 
  • Swap processed snacks like cakes, pies, pastries and biscuits to multigrain or high fibre options such as crackers & hummus, high fibre biscuits, fruits and vegetables.

Fermented Foods:

Fermented foods are like tiny probiotic factories, teeming with live bacteria that directly contribute to your gut’s diversity. Yogurt with live cultures, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha are all excellent choices. Just be sure to opt for varieties with live and active cultures to reap the probiotic benefits.

How can we include fermented foods into our diet?

  • By adding yogurt to your breakfast cereal or as a snack with some fruit and crushed nuts. 
  • Sauerkraut or kimchi can be a great addition to a salad! 
  • Swapping a fizzy drink for a kombucha

Fruits and Vegetables: 

Don’t underestimate the power of fruits and vegetables! These colourful guys are loaded with beneficial polyphenols, which act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in the gut. Think berries, apples, leafy greens, and even dark chocolate (in moderation, of course!).

Aim for 5-7 serves of fruit and vegetables each day. Try to keep the skin on where possible (and edible) as this is where all the great fibre and nutrients lie. Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits it does not matter! 

While you’re feeding the good guys, it’s also wise to limit the foods that can wreak havoc on your gut bacteria. Processed foods, sugary treats, and excessive amounts of unhealthy fats can tip the scales in favour of less desirable microbes.

Building a healthy gut microbiome is a marathon, not a sprint.

Aim for balanced, diverse diet rich in the gut-loving foods mentioned above. If you have any underlying gut issues, it’s always a good idea to consult a registered dietitian. Dietitians are the only qualified and regulated health professionals who assess, diagnose and treat dietary problems at an individual and wider public health level.

Happy gut, happy you!

With a little effort and the right dietary choices, you can cultivate a thriving gut microbiome and experience the amazing health benefits that come with it. Happy gut, happy you!