09 Aug Gut health
If someone told you the food you eat not only nourishes you but also the 100 trillion bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live inside your body, do you think you will eat differently?
I mean, they are only small right? With the knowledge you have right now, what is your gut feeling about the best or worse food for your bacteria? And does it really matter anyway? After researching on this topic, and trust me, I am only scratching the surface here, there is a lot we need to learn about the way our critters live and nourish from us. Why? Because their health is crucial for our own health.
Research shows that we have about 100 trillion bacteria living in our bodies. Did you know that these bacteria outnumber your body cells by 10 to 1? I didn’t. This means we basically are a hybrid being: half human (or probably less than half) + microbiome.
To start this topic, it is crucial to understand the concept of the microbiome, and I will explain it in simple words. The microbiome is a community of microbes that live in our body, however, the biggest colony is in our GI tract. We start building microbiome the moment we are born when we exit our mother’s body either through natural birth or cesarean and also through breastfeeding. As years passed and we keep growing, our microbiome also grows and diversifies. It feeds on the food and the environment we live in. There are many research studies that show that the health of the microbiome contributes to our health in many ways: control mood swings, brain fog, fight auto immune diseases, absorb nutrients and reduce or increase the incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes 1 and 2, obesity, arthritis, heart and brain diseases.
I must admit I had no idea we had so many critters living in our guts. It almost sounded like a science fiction movie, if you think of the 100 trillion bacteria that live inside our bodies and the fact they communicate with our genes it’s amazing. At the same time, realizing the connection between our brain, nervous system and microbes is mindblowing. So considering the microbiome has the power to drive our genetic expression, (meaning they can turn on or off certain genes that can cause diseases) I think it’s very important that we learn how to nourish ourselves and our community of microbes. What research studies show us is that we need to diversify the bacteria in our bodies because it will help us fight diseases in a more efficient way.
I dare to say the general understanding on bacteria goes like this: we all have good and bad bacteria. When we take antibiotics, we kill good and bad bacteria, which is why we take probiotics to help rebuild the good bacteria. However, as I learn more about this topic, I realized that our gut health goes far beyond the standard media recommendations to focus on probiotics as a way to maintain gut health.
Not surprisingly, there are certain foods that our bad bacteria love and others that our good bacteria need in order to maintain good health. There is a constant battle for power between good and bad bacteria so we need to identify the foods that help good bacteria to succeed.
Let’s go over them.
- Fermented foods like yogurt, fermented vegetables, and kombucha. Check out this link for more information on fermented vegetables. http://articles.mercola.com/fermented-foods.aspx
- Polyphenol rich foods like blueberries, raw cacao, broccoli and green tea.
- Plant –based foods add fiber to our diet, which prevents bacteria from eating the mucus in your intestines. This is clearly explained by Dr. Mercola in his blog. I became a fan of Dr. Joseph Mercola because of his extensive work to create more educated consumers and patients.
Also, it’s important to add a variety of foods. Research studies show that 75% of the standard western diet is based on 12 plants and 5 animal species.  So, in regards to taking probiotics, of course, they help our gut health but food is a stronger influence in terms of long lasting results.
Now, let’s go over the not so recommended foods:
- Fat and Sugary processed foods – These are huge disruptors of microbial balance. Bad bacteria love sugar (and fat). The more we eat it, the more bad bacteria grow while good bacteria decrease in number. When this happens, we decrease our ability to fight diseases.
- Conventionally raised animals (and its products) – Due to the antibiotics they are fed while raised.
- Antibiotics – It is best to avoid them unless you really need to take them for medical reasons.
If you compare this information to that shared previously in my blogs it all seems to head in the same direction. The best options to keep healthy are foods in their natural form (not processed), fresh, whole and organic.
I found this video, which gives a short but complete picture of how the microbiome world works inside us. You might want to look at it and while you do it, you can share it with everyone you care for.
Becoming a conscious consumer is something attainable. Trust me, it is not that difficult, if you are reading this, you are already on the right path. So keep tuned and stay connected.
What’s your gut feeling after reading this? I would love to hear from you!
Molecular Metabolism 2016 Mar 5;5(5): 317-20