I always knew I felt better eating hearty vegetables, whole grains, and cutting out refined sugar and carbohydrates as much as possible. But now I know why. Essentially, I’m feeding the healthy microflora in the lower intestine. Tiny, invisible organisms that do so much work to keep us healthy. A diet high in processed food, refined carbohydrates and sugar, and low in fiber goes straight into the bloodstream, essentially starving those healthy little microflora down below.

When “It Takes Guts” aired last week on CBC’s The Nature of Things, I was taking notes. Not just because the gastrointestinal system may be becoming the “next big thing” in health, but because healthy microflora = energy! What does that translate into? More energy at work. And when you start thinking about productivity and ROI, those healthy, microbes play a key role for you, your team and your company. While researchers from the program emphasized that gut microbes are our body’s secret weapon in the battle of the bulge and combating obesity, they’re also our body’s secret weapon in the workplace.

They play a starring role in our immune system, and the more diverse the better, experts said. Think one hundred trillion microbes living in a community, all seeking a healthy “soil” with great richness and variety.

So now I have a different reason to just “eat healthy” and feel my best at work. If I eat junk food I’m essentially starving those healthy microflora that are just yearning to give me vitality and make me feel better at work. They provide metabolism, nutrition and energy, said Dr. Emma-Allen Vercoe, Associate Professor at the University of Guelph.

Cut out junk food and avoid antibiotic-fed meat, they advised, and eat foods high in fiber. Lentils, leeks and artichokes and zucchini were specific foods they mentioned to nourish those healthy microbes. Lentil salad for lunch anyone?