More about our magical Microbiomes
Our guts (gut microbiome) provide a valuable insight into our metabolism and nutritional requirements.
Our microbiome is truly fascinating, and home to over 100 trillion microorganisms! These cells are ten times more than the cells in the human body, and these genes outnumber your human genes by an incredible 150:1. So really over 90% of your genetic make-up is not your own, but your gut bacteria’s. It is also fascinating to realise that 70% of our immune cells are actually in our gut. The microbiome is now known as an organ in its own right and incredibly, the activities of the microbiome are involved in most, if not all, of the human biological processes.
Many of these microbes make vital vitamins (the B vitamins and vitamin K) and important molecules, which are linked with numerous positive health benefits, such as regulating our appetites, reducing inflammation and optimising detoxification ability.
· Aid digestion - fermenting the fibre, which is indigestible from vegetables and fruit, which then releases a fatty acid called butyrate. This is necessary as it encourages the mucus which we need to protect our healthy gut lining. This is essential as without a healthy gut lining our immune systems, skin and mental health can suffer. An unhealthy gut lining may also lead to “leaky gut”, which is when toxins or particles of undigested food, escapes into the bloodstream. This can result in a damaged immune system, regulation of mood, skin issues and allergy-type symptoms.
· Work with our hormones
· Work with our nervous system
· Work with our immune system
Numerous studies, have determined that certain species of bacteria found in your gut, are linked to particular characteristics, including protection from type 2 diabetes, decreased appetite, reduced inflammation and lean body type.
Positive gut health is vital for successful weight management, and each individual has a different make-up of gut bacteria, which is completely personalised and different from person to person. However, studies have shown obese subjects to have a lower number of different species inhabiting their guts compared with normal weight and non-obese individuals. Furthermore, a greater diversity of different bacteria species in our guts has been associated with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and this is greatly influenced by what you eat.
It is believed, at present, that environmental factors, such as diet and lifestyle have the greatest influence on shaping the gut microbiome, however, genetics also appear to certainly play a role. And whilst we can’t change our genes, we can affect the composition of the different species of bacteria in our guts, since nutrition and lifestyle play a significant role on the health of the microbes.
The foods that we regularly consume can impact the genetic expression of our gut cells; thus, if we are constantly eating processed food and toxins we are damaging the DNA of our cells. And, since we need lots of variety when it comes to gut bacteria, it is important to make sure our guts have as many different bacteria species as possible. Fortunately for us, this can be achieved by consuming a variety of foods, rich in different species of bacteria, all of which promote a healthy gut lining and microbiome.
Foods to Promote Good Gut Health
fermented tempeh (type of soya)
fermented miso (add to cooking)
kefir (if you are not lactose intolerant)
natural or Greek yogurt (preferably organic)
Also, if you have ever had antibiotics, chances are a lot of your good bacteria have been wiped out. In fact, antibiotics can decrease the diversity of gut bacteria in just three days, but the effect of this short course of antibiotics can last for years.
Furthermore, studies have shown that if our microbiome has a low bacteria count and certain good species are not in abundance, this can make us hungrier and subsequently, take in more calories from the foods we are eating. Increasing research has demonstrated that not all calories are equal – sugar, processed meats, soft drinks, alcohol all may change the balance of bacteria in our guts. Even if these highly-processed foods have the same amount of calories in as a whole-food, they can cause us to consume more calories compared with a whole-food.
We need to focus on optimising our gut health, strengthening the gut lining and re-inoculating the bacteria, thereby promoting optimum health and weight loss.