Erica and Justin Sonnenburg, a pair of Stanford University microbiologists who have been studying the effects of diet on the microbiome for more than a decade, are a little bit obsessed with fiber. “Digesting it appears to be the primary profession of our gut microbes,” Erica says. At home the Sonnenburgs focus on fiber-heavy, legume-loaded meals aimed specifically at sustaining their most beneficial bugs. Here’s a day’s worth of eating adapted from their book, The Good Gut, to get your microbiome on track.
Muesli for Your Microbes7.5 grams of fiber per serving; makes four servings
This cold cereal is heavy on fruit and nuts, and the kefir adds some probiotic strains of bacteria.
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- 4 unpeeled apples, chopped
- 2 cups plain kefir
- ½ cup rolled cereal
- ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
- 2 tbsp. flaxseed meal
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. salt
The night before, combine all the ingredients in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Serve cold with a drizzle of honey.
Chickpea Greek Salad16 grams of fiber per serving; makes two servings
Fibrous garbanzo beans help this dish really pop.
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- 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- ½ red onion, sliced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup kalamata olives
- ¼ cup feta cheese
Toss all ingredients with olive oil and lemon juice to taste.
Dal with Yogurt Raita10 grams of fiber per serving; makes four servings
Don’t let all the ingredient scare you—dal with raita is just as easy, and delicious, as takeout.
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- 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1 tsp. grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 carrots, chopped
- 5 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- 1½ cups red lentils, rinsed
- 4 cups stock or water
- 1 18-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 lime, juiced
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ cup yogurt
- ½ cup chopped or grated cucumber
- 2 tbsp. chopped mint
- 1 pinch garam masala
Heat the oil on high and add the mustard seeds; fry until they begin to pop, about one minute. Reduce heat to medium and add the ginger, garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until the veggies begin to soften, about five minutes. Stir in the salt, spices, lentils, stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Mix the raita. When the lentils are soft, add the lime juice and cilantro. Serve over brown rice or whole wheat naan and top with raita.