This article from The Guardian provides an excellent overview of what it does, what we know, and easy ways to improve our overall health.
What do we know?
Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, estimates that we only know about 10% of what there is to learn. However, what we do know already has significant implications.
Professor Spector conducted a 30-year long study of 15,000 twins and found that genetically identical people respond to the same foods very differently. This is an important finding given our bodies’ response to food is linked to the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. It’s also why the gut microbiome is so hard to study, because it’s different even in genetically identical twins.
Professor Jack Gilbert, an award-winning microbiome scientist at the University of California San Diego, tells The Guardian that many people don’t realise that depression, anxiety, appetite are all very clearly modified by our gut microbes. The key finding”, he says, is the link between the gut and our immune system. According to Professor Gilbert, “most of your immune system is in your gut, helping you fight infections, such as Covid and early cancers”.
Why is what we eat important?
What we eat impacts our gut health and the diversity of our gut microbes, which studies suggest is a key factor in our overall health. Studies have found that as countries urbanise, microbial diversity declines, and scientists suspect that this loss has contributed to the increase of chronic, non-communicable diseases such as asthma, food allergies, atopic conditions such eczema and inflammation over the last 50 years.
A key reason for why the gut impacts so many aspects of our health is due to the short-chain fatty acids it produces. These short-chain fatty acids are workhorses – they support our immunity, keep the gut and colon healthy, moderate the body’s inflammatory responses and help to metabolise glucose.
Three actions to take to improve your gut health...
1. Give your gut the fuel it needs by eating the recommended amount of fibre (approximately 30 grams a day). This is crucial, because fibre is food for your gut microbiome, allowing it to produce chemicals to keep your immune system healthy.
2. Increase the diversity of your gut microbiome by:
Eating a colourful variety of fruits and vegetables, foods rich in polyphenols such as dark chocolate and red wine and fermented foods like kefir and kimchi.
Avoiding processed foods and reducing salt and sugar intake, as these seem to reduce the diversity in our guts.
3. Play with your dogs or cats, and let your children play in the dirt. Our constant sanitisation kills the majority of harmful bacteria, but also reduces our contact with the good bacteria that would increase the diversity in our gut microbiome.
If you want to improve your gut health, or learn more about holistic wellness generally, our dietitians, naturopaths and nutritionists can help. Book a free consultation call with one of our health professionals by clicking the image below.
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