We’ve got a gut feeling about this…
Our top tips for improving your microbiome
Gut health is getting quite a bit of press recently. Research is showing just how gut health is linked to overall health. It seems that ‘leaky gut’ and ‘microbiome’ are the buzz words of today, and not just in the Paleo community.
So what is gut health exactly?
Your gut ‘microbiome’ is a community of trillions of bacteria living in your gastrointestinal tract – that starts at your throat and ends at… well, you can guess where. These bacteria can influence metabolism, immune system and mood. As far back as 1954 scientists knew of the importance of feeding your gut. No one could understand why breastmilk contained a certain carbohydrate that was unable to be digested a baby. The complex carbs, called oligosaccharides, didn’t feed the baby – it fed the gut bacteria. But it wasn’t until 2006 that they found which particular a gut bacteria and why. A bacterium called Bifidobacterium infantis (or B infantis for short!), which in a healthy baby dominates the rest of the bacteria so as to prevent illness. It also releases short chain fatty acids which feed the gut cells and helps them seal so as to prevent inflammation. A NY Times report, from 2013 stated: “Disorders in our internal ecosystem — a loss of diversity, say, or a proliferation of the “wrong” kind of microbes — may predispose us to obesity and a whole range of chronic diseases, as well as some infections.” It was new news back then, but now it’s becoming more accepted in the mainstream media that gut health can contribute to illnesses like diabetes, obesity, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, depression and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. The report which was part of the American Gut project, went on to say that this ‘Second genome” influences our health just as much as, if not more than, our genes. The good news is, that whilst genes are pretty much fixed, there’s plenty you can do about your gut bacteria. Studies have shown that not long after changing what you eat your gut microbiota dramatically change. The bad news is that it changes back just as quickly if you revert to old habits.
So what can YOU do to improve YOUR gut health? Here are our top 5 tips:
- Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods wisely – We’ve all heard of probiotics – the healthy bacteria those TV ads keep going on about. What they don’t tell you is the best source of probiotics are ferments such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt, kefir, and kombucha. Prebiotics are the things that feed the good bacteria in your body. Foods such as sweet potatoes, squash, courgette and artichokes are all rich in prebiotics, as is one of our favourite snacks – Tiger Nuts! Note: this is not for EVERYONE. Some people with gut issues could be suffering from bacterial overgrowth such as SIBO. Prebiotics and probiotics can make these things worse.
- Eat grass fed, organic animal protein – it’s great source of amino acids such as L-glutamine and glutamate which get to work in the intestine and help produce acid which is important for digestion.
- Managing stress and getting enough sleep have been shown to be important factors in gut health.
- Get some exercise - A recent study published in the journal, Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise, showed that aerobic exercise can help keep our microbiome healthy and happy too.
- Eat plenty of healthy fats - coconut oil, pure olive oil and of course, extra virgin avocado oil which helps to heal the intestinal wall and is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids.
Ancestral Health guru Chris Kresser has said that he believes that “restoring the integrity of the gut barrier will be one of the most important goals of medicine in the 21st century.”
What does your gut say? Let us know what you think in the comments below.Sources:
- https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/11/gut-biology-health-bacteria-future-medicine https://chriskresser.com/beyond-paleo-6/
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