So what is the Gut microbiome?
Much of your immune system is actually in your gut. The lining of your gut is home to huge numbers of microbes that aid digestion and play a vital role in protecting you against illness, so much so that many scientists refer to the gut as our second brain. I don’t – I like to think of it as our first brain because it is the organ that drives our entire system. This is a good review of the literature on the gut microbiome if you want to read more about it.
So how do you build and maintain a healthy gut microbial flora?
The mechanisms linking the gut microbiome with health are only just being discovered. But one thing is clear, our physical and mental health is facilitated by a healthy and diverse microbiome. So how do you build and maintain a healthy gut microbial flora? Well, there are several things you can do, and you can start right now.
- Eat more unprocessed, unrefined, whole foods. Get rid of the refined carbohydrates and start increasing the level of fibre in your daily diet.
- Cut down on sugar.
- Increase the amount and diversity of plant-based foods you eat. An easy way to do this is to load up with vegetables to accompany your bread.
- Include olive oil in your diet. It helps to reduce inflammation and tastes amazing. Olive oil as a dip is a lovely thing to accompany your bread.
- Include foods that are high in omega fatty acids. These have been shown to help support healthy gut flora.
- Eat cultured foods. Try to accompany your food with good, active, live probiotic foods on a daily basis. Things like live yoghurt, unpasteurised cheeses, live vinegars, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, amazake and kefir.
- Add more inclusions to your bread. Increase the level of diversity and fibre, as well as flavour, in your baking with nuts, seeds and fruit.
- Increase the levels of polyphenols in your diet by choosing purple fruit and vegetables. Eat plenty of blueberries, blackberries and dark grapes, as well as red cabbage, red onions and beetroot.
- Eat green vegetables and add some acidity to them. This facilitates greater bioavailability of the nutrients. I like to add a vinegar or lemon juice dressing to my salads for a little acidity.
- Incorporate a wide range of healthy fats into your diet. Not just olive oil, but coconut oil, butter and walnut oil.
- Eat mindfully. Be in the moment when you eat. Chew your food, laugh and share, and just enjoy your meal. Reduce the stress around mealtimes, just enjoy the moment.