What’s going on in your gut might be more important than you think. Human intestinal microbial health has become the subject of intense interest and research in recent years, and there’s a big reason why.
The human intestinal tract contains a complex microbial community that plays a central role in your health. Our gut has been estimated to contain in nearly 1000 bacterial species, totaling over 100 trillion cells that influence our physiology, gene expressions, metabolism, immunity and overall nutrition.
Why is gut health so important?
Our bacterial health largely impacts our immune system which is responsible for all inflammation in the body, our ability to fight disease and our ability to have a strong immune system for the prevention of cancer and other immune disorders such as autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune diseases (which includes Diabetes type 1, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, urticaria, Hashimotos’, Graves’ disease and many more), allergies and other immune disorders are becoming more prevalent across the developed world. With further research it has been discovered that our microbial health may have everything to do with these conditions.
Animal studies have shown by changing the microbes of mice in the digestive system positively asthma and other chronic immune disease were reducing and reversing completely. (Vinegar was also used in these studies to encourage the positive microbial change with very strong benefits).
Research has also shown in mice studies that the lack of fermentable fibers and therefore lack of good bacteria in people’s diet may pave the way for allergic inflammatory reactions.
What negatively affects our gut health?
- Dietary changes: eating more processed less wholefoods, less fresh fruit and vegetables
- Limited microbial exposure and outdoor time: reduced exposure to animals, soil and other outside organisms
- Over hygienic environment: chlorinated water supplies, hand sanitisers, anti-microbial cleaners, anti-bacterial hand-washes and our over-washed and hygienic food items (historically people consumed soil microorganisms from their food from under-washed produce)
- Medication: antibiotics, NSAIDs, anti-acid medications
- Possible farming contaminates: pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers
How does gut bacteria affect our overall health?
- Digesting food and metabolizing essential nutrients
- Regulating our immune system in our gut – we have more immune cells in our digestive system than everywhere else combined
- Communicating to our immune system what to attack
- Controls inflammation and hormone signalling
- Influences our brain chemistry and mood
Poor food choices will result in overgrowth of bad bacteria, whilst good food choices will support a healthy bowel flora.
If your gut is healthy and you’ve set it up with a healthy microbial population, this is known to directly correlate with a decline in many chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, allergies, auto-immune diseases and much more.
In much of the research they have found a diet high in fruits and vegetables has a significant positive impact on a healthy gut! If you have Rebooted before, you likely changed the very foundation of your gut with positive bacteria thriving while the pathogenic dies off!
What to eat for a healthy gut?
In previous posts we’ve told you about the importance of probiotics, fermented foods and resistant starch in supporting gut health, but I’m throwing in another important food group that has a pivotal influence on our microbial health: Prebiotic foods and fruits and vegetables. Prebiotics are non-digestible dietary fibers we get from food that feed your “good” bacteria. The most common naturally occurring prebiotics are inulins, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), all which pass through the digestive system without being digested or absorbed. Think of it as putting Drain-O down a clogged drain. As it passes through, it doesn’t attach on to anything, but helps stimulate and clean out the system. Foods rich in prebiotics (high levels of inulins and FOS) include asparagus, artichokes, leeks, onions, garlic, bananas, milk (if you have the enzyme to convert lactose to GOS), whole grains, legumes, cruciferous vegetables, and leafy greens.
The soluble fiber along with the resistant starch in fruits and vegetables acts as a food source for our good bacteria. And yes you guessed it. Juicing includes both of these; soluble fiber and resistant starch, so it’s an ideal addition to your diet to achieve optimal gut health.
Great sources of fiber rich fruits and vegetables for a healthy gut are berries, apples, pears, figs, green beans, broccoli, spinach, dandelion greens, leek, garlic, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, onions and carrots.
Changing your gut health doesn’t take much time at all, dietary changes can impact your gut health in a matter of a few days. If you plan to increase your fiber intake it can be best to add extra sources in gradually.
The bottom line: eat more vegetables, fruit and fiber for healthy gut bugs with the reduced risk of many diseases!