It’s all about the GUT
We have placed this well balanced ecosystem in our bodies into a very toxic environment. As a result we are effectively “feeding” the bad bacteria and micro organisms that exist in and around our bodies. In this process the beneficial bacteria, which provide us with substances which are anti-inflammatory, or help us to make vitamins and minerals and so many other processes that are essential to keep us in good health, are being pushed out and massively reduced. This is effectively the cause of modern chronic disease and reduction in well being.
Once of the most important things about our microbiome is DIVERSITY. Do you remember the Potato famine that happened many decades ago in Ireland? All the farmers found an excellent producing variety and all planted the same crop species. Consequently, a blight came by and wiped out the entire production of potatoes, creating the great potato famine of 1845 to 1849.
So by increasing the diversity of the microbiome, we are more resilient to disease and inversely, the more we reduce the species of microbiome, the more we lose the ability to protect against disease.
One of the biggest drivers impacting the diversity of our microbiome is the Western / Modern diet – highly processed, high sugar, chemical laden fatty foods, and as a result, we are seeing chronic disease rise to epidemic proportions. Not only does this bad diet destroy beneficial microbiome, it subsequently allows proliferation of “bad” bacteria which produce compounds that are actually toxic to the human body.
There is a signature pattern that arises in individuals that have a very high processed diet, and that is very low levels of diversity and low levels of “keystone” species. These “keystone” species are highly important organisms that hold up the rest of the microbiome, provide diversity and protect it against invasion or against over production of certain types of pathogenic compounds. Therefore, these species are extremely important for the maintenance of a healthy microbiome.
Studies are revealing that manipulating the microbiome can improve overall health. This manipulation is the effect of a varied diet on the microbiome diversity. Ancestral studies show that humans consumed up to 600 different types of foods annually, a typical western diet includes about 15 different types of food, and most of this is lacking fibre (plant based). Our evolution is based on what is available to us in nature, the microbiome feed on what we eat.
Glyphosate (found in RoundUp) – the use of this chemical in agriculture, farming and by the general public in gardens has been extensively studied by Monika Krueger – University of Leipzig. She found that this chemical actively kills beneficial bacteria, and propagated the growth of bacteria like salmonella and clostridium species causing a dysbiosis in the gut.
The sad truth about the current situation is that we could change this rise in chronic disease tomorrow. Improving the environment, and subsequently our diet would have a huge impact on overall health.
Improving and Maintaining a Robust Microbiome
Diet plays a huge role in improving the diversity of your microbiome. Variety is key. Eating a mainly plant based diet (increasing the intake of Prebiotics(1)) with some animal and dairy protein. Ideally you want to eat organically produced food where possible.
Eat Healthy Fats – As you know, your cholesterol has two components – HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (Bad cholesterol). Fats that enhance your HDL count are good fats and are found in omega-3 fatty acid rich fishes, avocado, coconut, flaxseed, olive oil, seafood, and nuts.
Try including probiotic (2) foods such yogurts (natural unsweetened) or “kefir” (fermented milk) which are great for your gut health and digestion. The main members of this probiotic family are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These collectively protect you against diarrhea, lactose intolerance, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Moreover, these friendly-neighborhood bacteria colonies are our natural defense against eczema, vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, and even the common cold.
Eat like a Rainbow, leafy greens, colourful fruits, try to aim for as many different coloured foods in your diet as possible.
The main take home is eat as close to the whole food as you possibly can. Ensure that you include fermented foods in your diet to improve the intake of Probiotics (2).