Did you know that your gut is home to approximately 2 kilos of good bacteria? Trillions of microbes that play a pivotal role in digestion, immunity and even our mental health. Although nutritional science in this area is relatively new, leading experts agree that gut health and diversity in gut microbes is what will keep us at our healthy best.
In 2006, researchers from Washington University in the USA discovered that a lack of diversity in a gut microbiome could lead to obesity. This area of research was in mice, but it certainly made nutrition scientists take notice. The study found that certain microbes, called Firmicutes, are overly efficient at extracting calories/energy and increasing the absorption of fat in the body. And as you can probably guess, these mice were also efficient at gaining weight!
WHAT CAN WE DO?
To have good gut health we need to have diversity in our gut, and therefore diversity in our diet.
- Eat a broad variety of plant foods – take a look at the colour on your plate. Is it varied? Do you buy the same fruit, vegetables and grains all the time? If so, mix it up!
- Try including some fermented foods that contain good bacteria– yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir are great examples.
- Eat high fibre snacks – nuts, wholegrain crackers with hummus, veggie sticks with guacamole, fresh/stewed/dried fruits
- Eat lean, quality protein and, for diversity, try to include at least one vegetarian day each week (Meatless Monday)
- Stay hydrated
- Eat less prepackaged, refined and processed foods
- Don’t forget to also move regularly, sleep soundly and pencil in some ME time! All key aspects of a healthy life.
By making some simple dietary changes and ensuring that there is variety in what you eat, you will reduce the likelihood of one dominant microbe in your gut. You’ll also be consuming great nourishment at the same time!