As Hippocrates, the founding father of medicine once wrote, ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.‘ These ancient words of wisdom apply today as never before.
One of the really exciting medical discoveries in recent years has been the “microbiome”, the medical term for the community of bugs and bacteria that live (normally healthily and happily) in your body mainly the gut. We are talking serious numbers here, not millions or billions but trillions of micro-organisms (between 10 and 50 trillion).
Thought to be as unique as your fingerprint, your microbiome may be intricately involved in many biological processes in your body and play a key role in your health and wellbeing.
These include effects on your metabolism, weight, immune system and absorption of key minerals such as calcium and magnesium.They also produce a large percentage of the bodies serotonin, the happiness boosting hormone involved in feelings of positivity and self-confidence.
An imbalance of your microbiome can lead to many problems including feeling more tired, stressed and anxious, weight gain, low mood, depressive states, memory problems ‘brain fog‘ and inflammation.
There’s no doubt that the modern western diet with its high sugar high processed food content is toxic to the needs of a healthy microbiome. Other causes of this imbalance being researched include lack of sleep, stress (particularly being unable to destress), lack of exercise and the role of environmental toxins.
Here are some key pointers to rebalance your microbiome.
Eat real food for real health – minimise processed foods and non-fibre based sources of sugar. Eat lots of natural probiotics which put friendly bacteria back into the gut ( foods like yogurts, fermented foods like kiefer, kimchi, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables).
Eat lots of prebiotics, essentially fibre rich foods that the bugs and bacteria in your microbiome feed on. These include oatmeal, bananas, apples, green vegetables and other rich prebiotic foods including garlic, onion, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots and leeks. Make sure to include prebiotic super spices including turmeric and cinnamon.
Minimise your intake of prescription antibiotics. While antibiotics can be lifesaving for severe bacterial infections, antibiotic resistance is an increasing cause of concern worldwide. Remember that antibiotics will not only knock out harmful bacteria, but good bacteria in your microbiome as well.
Food for thought – do your food and lifestyle choices nurture your micro biome and protect your physical and mental health?