Our microbiome: We are what they eat!
Everyone’s talking about the microbiome, it’s a real buzz word at the moment here are some facts.
Our gut is at the foundation of our health. 2000 years ago Hippocrates said, ‘all disease begins in the gut’ and this is at the core of many healing protocols used today.
Basically we are a complex 7m long hollow tube, where food goes in one end and comes out the other. The inner surface of the tube is also ‘outside’ and exposed to the environment and is host to literally trillions of helpful bacteria and microbes. This is our microbiome, our gut flora.
We host a whopping 1½ kg of different communities of microbes in our gut and they are busy digesting our food, producing vitamins, regulating hormones, producing healing compounds, and keeping us healthy by killing off pathogens and excreting toxins.
Communication between our stomach and brain can feel like butterflies in the stomach or ‘gut feelings’. Cells lining our gut, protect us from harmful substances and invading microbes and is often called ‘the second brain’. It is connected directly to our brain by the vagus nerve, which carries information to and from the brain, about what the gut is doing and when to regulate digestive secretions and enzymes.
Over 60% of our immune system is located in the lining of our gut. Composed of a layer of thick secreted mucus, immune cells and antibodies, this is our first line of defence.
90% of serotonin, our ‘happy’ hormone is manufactured in our gut! Scientists have discovered that our gut microbes can alter our physical and our mental health!
A healthy gut microbiome starts in the womb. As a baby emerges from its mother, from a sterile environment, it experiences a wonderful dose of microbes and colonisation begins. It is no coincidence that lactic acid resides in the vagina and since lactic acid bacteria are milk eaters, they convert the milk into energy for themselves and the baby.
Our biome needs energy-rich sources of food and most importantly, FIBRE! Simply put, the good bugs eat the fibre we consume and produce short chain fatty acids, which are the main nutrients produced by bacterial fermentation. These end products have have countless health benefits, helping regulate glucose, fat and energy production, and reduce the risk of developing IBS, IBD, gout, arthritis, cancer and cardiovascular disease, to name a few. Fortunately, colonisation and bacterial balance can be restored with the intake of probiotics.
Increase your intake of pro and prebiotic foods, soluble and insoluble fibre; apples, root vegetables, onions, leeks, asparagus, garlic, beans and pulses, broccoli, quinoa, the food we eat today has arguably less fibre than that of our ancestors.
How to create a strong, healthy microbiome
- Natural birthing and breastfeeding where possible
- Be calm when you eat and chew your food thoroughly
- Deep restful sleep
- Eat an organic, fibre and plan rich diet
- Reduce your stress levels and get out in nature
- Exposure to soil based microbes
- Eat only grass fed organic meat
- Reduce refined sugar and alcohol
- Limit antibiotics and drugs
- Get your microbiome tested – our gut holds all the clues!
If for a moment we consider our relationship with our microbes, how they affect our physical and mental health and how they sustain and nourish us, then in return should we consider meal choices and what foods our microbes would be grateful for.
Are we behaving as worthy hosts? You are what they eat.
10% Human’, Alanna Collen ISBN 978-0-00-758405-5