Scientific American presents Nutrition Diva by Quick & Dirty TipsScientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

We hear a lot about the microbiome these days—the trillions of probiotic bacteria that live on and in us. As we are learning, these microbes contribute to our health in myriad and previously unimagined ways. The beneficial bacteria in your intestines, for example, aid digestion, manufacture nutrients, protect against food-borne pathogens, and even appear to play a role in regulating your body weight.

These helpful creatures can be wiped out by antibiotics and other drug therapies, colonics, or even a bad case of diarrhea. When this happens, you want to restore those beneficial intestinal flora as quickly as possible.

In a couple of weeks, I am scheduled for a routine screening colonoscopy. The preparation for this procedure involves a 24-hour liquid fast, and the administration of a strong laxative designed to flush everything out of my colon, so the doctor can have a look around. Unfortunately, this will probably also decimate my gut bacteria—presenting both a challenge, as well as an opportunity.

The foods that I do (and don’t) eat in the first few days following my procedure will have a big impact on how quickly and well my intestinal bacteria recover. Here are the three things I plan to eat, and the three things I’ll try to avoid:

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