You work on your abs because it's an important indicator of your health — and, of course, for appearance's sake. But under the layers of fat and muscle, your GI tract has trillions of microorganisms that are just as important to your overall health, maybe more so, than the state of your six-pack. Mostly healthy bacteria, this incredible diversity of bugs are collectively known as your microbiome. Never heard of it? We're not surprised. Only recently have scientists started to understand how this "invisible organ" affects all body functions and can drastically improve your wellbeing.
"A balanced microbiome helps fight off harmful bacteria and toxins, increases absorption of nutrients from food, and strengthens your immune system," says Raphael Kellman, M.D., a New York City internist and author of The Microbiome Diet. "It can also fight inflammation, regulate insulin, and improve mood and cognition." Scoring these benefits means regularly eating a healthy diet with a variety of whole, mostly plant-based foods — especially these 10, which have extra microbiome-enhancing, GI–boosting powers.