Take the 50-food challenge this week and improve diversity in the gut!
Friday 26th October 2018
Skin issues? Think about the gut.
Poor immune health? Consider the gut.
Weight gain? Have you thought about the gut?
Anxiety? It's connected to the gut!
These days there isn't a single condition that doesn't seem to have a connection with the gut. As we learn more and more about the billions of bacteria housed in there, and their complex relationship with every other cell and system in the body including neurotransmitters, immune cells and hormones, it's not hard to see why.
The health of the microbiome and balance of the bacteria in the gut is dependent on a number of factors including our genetic coding, dietary habits, lifestyle factors, e.g. sleep, stress and exercise, medications and exposure to toxins.
Whilst we cannot change our genetic coding, we can influence the way that our genes are expressed by making simple dietary and lifestyles changes that are within our control and can have a huge impact on health.
Bacterial strains are often labelled as 'good' or bad', 'beneficial' or 'pathogenic', and whilst these terms are useful in understanding basic patterns within the gut, it is the relationship between the different bacterial strains as well as their diversity and relative abundance which is of greater importance.
Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are the most prevalent beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract; together making up to 90% of intestinal tract microbes. Different strains within these species have been well researched for their specific and individual capabilities, and this is extremely useful when wishing to achieve particular results. However, overall it has been found that a higher diversity index across all beneficial bacterial strains is associated with a greater resilience to dietary change and better overall health.
Supplementing with probiotics can be extremely beneficial in supporting balance and improving diversity in the microbiome particularly following the use of antibiotics or if a particular health condition is present, i.e. allergy, poor immunity, diarrhoea/constipation or yeast/candida. However probiotics don't work for everyone so it's important to supplement under the supervision of a qualified and experienced Nutritional Therapist.
Dietary changes are also an extremely powerful way of altering the gut microbiota, helping to increase the all-important diversity required for health. Fibre-rich foods such as vegetables, beans, pulses, nuts, seeds and wholegrains as well as probiotic-rich foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and miso can all be useful in supporting a healthy microbiome.
Leading practitioner, neuroscientist and BANT chair, Miguel Toribio-Mateas, recently said "One of the most powerful messages from recent clinical research is that diet diversity mirrors microbial diversity, and that the more diverse your microbes, the better your overall health is likely to be".
With this is mind, consuming a wide range of fresh, whole and colourful foods may be an extremely easy and accessible way to positively impact the gut microbiome.
Miguel recommends that we try to eat 50 different fresh foods over seven days to see for ourselves how powerful this simple intervention can be.
We challenge you to try this for yourself! Email us directly and we will send a copy of the 50-food challenge handout to you, or simply keep a food diary for a week and see how many different fresh foods you are able to include.
For personalised nutrition support, and access to functional stool testing so you can understand the health of your microbiome better, book an appointment with us today!