For those who follow health news, you might be hearing a bombardment of news regarding your stomach, and how it can heal you and make you perfect! Many new supplements, health drinks and advertisements promising to correcting problems we didn’t realise we have been are popping up in the market, and it can be difficult to understand what all this means. Here’s a simple guide for you to understand your stomach, and what it can do to help your health.
First things first, what is a gut microbiome?
Many organisms, such as bacteria, virus and fungi grow and live in your gut (intestinal tract). They are first grown in your body from the exposure to mother's birth canal. They live in your digestive system and they play a key role in digesting food you eat, and they help with absorbing and synthesising nutrients too.
Why are gut microbiome important?
Various studies conducted recently have shown that the Gut organisms are involved in many other important processes that extend beyond your gut, including your metabolism,body weight, and immune regulation, as well as your brain functions and mood.
It was discovered that specific microbial components strongly contribute not only to the regulation of energy metabolism but also to glucose and lipid homeostasis (your fat and sugar content in body). By communicating with immune cells, the gut microbiome can also control how your body responds to infection and hence exposure to bad bacteria can produce the onset of low-grade inflammation and insulin resistance which can lead to major diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Certain species of bacteria can help produce chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters which therefore even improve your mood. Certain bacteria within the gut microbiome can produce chemicals that may block arteries and lead to heart disease.
How can you improve your gut microbiome?
There is no one fool proof way to change the bacteria in your stomach overnight. Make sure to remember, good health is a lifestyle process not a diet. Here are a few simple steps you can follow to make way to a better gut.
- Eat fermented foods: Fermented foods such as yogurt. They mainly Lactobacilli, a bacteria which can reduce the amount of disease-causing species in the gut
- Diversify: your stomach needs variety. Never restrict your diet to one type of grain. Instead incorporate a variety of foods. This means not more of one vegetable/fruit but rather various types of vegetables/fruits/pulses etc. remember to pick products grown locally.
- Do not self-medicate. Take Antibiotics only when necessary. Antibiotics kill many bad and good bacteria in the gut microbiome, possibly contributing to weight gain and antibiotic resistance.
- Eat whole grains: Whole grains contain lots of fiber which are digested by gut bacteria to benefit weight,cancer risk, diabetes and other disorders. Examples of whole grains include: barley, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa.
- Eat foods rich in polyphenols: Polyphenols are plant compounds found in red wine, green tea, dark chocolate, olive oil and whole grains.
- Eat a diverse range of foods: This can lead to a diverse microbiome, which is an indicator of good gut health. In particular, legumes, beans and fruit contain lots of fiber and can promote the growth of healthy Bifidobacteria
- Eat prebiotic foods: Prebiotics are a type of fiber that stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria. Prebiotic-rich foods include garlic, onions, bananas, whole oats and apples. Interestingly, Chicory root is popular for its coffee-like flavour, is also a great source of prebiotics.
- Enjoy meat free days: Vegetarian diets may help reduce levels of disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli, as well as inflammation and cholesterol
- Try using probiotic supplements: Probiotics contain live bacteria that can help restore the gut to a healthy state
The bottom line is the best way to a healthier life is from the inside. It is true that what you eat makes who you are. So, make sure to have local foods, with a variety and enjoy the best all!