By Nicolette Louw
I am almost certain that by now you have heard of your gut brain connection and that ‘your gut is your second brain’?
It was Hippocrates, who lived almost two and a half thousand years ago (and died at the age of 90) who advised “let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food” as well as “all disease begins in the gut”. It has been known for almost 100 years that microbial action in the intestinal tract can be a source of toxins affecting normal brain function.
Your gut microbiome is a vast community of trillions of bacteria and fungi that inhabit every nook and cranny of your gastrointestinal tract. They have a major influence on your metabolism, body weight, propensity to illness, immune system, hormones, appetite, and mood.These microbes live mostly in your lower intestine (colon) and outnumber all the other cells in your body put together. They weigh slightly more than our brains and no two microbiomes are the same!
Evidently, diversity is key. Research is showing that the richer and more diverse the community of gut microbes, the lower your risk of allergies and disease. The chemicals made by these microbes also support brain development. Microbes are our housekeepers-they do not allow anything toxic to be absorbed.
The decline in gut health over the past decades has been attributed to the increased use of antibiotics, the increased consumption of nutrient deficient and processed foods and the increase in our general levels of stress. Did you know that antibiotics destroy the harmony of our gut and it takes our gut 2 weeks to 2 months to recover after every course of antibiotics?
Some of the ways in which we can restore healthy gut flora include:
Increase your fibre intake.
Eat bone broth, all meats, fish, and good quality eggs.
Choose food/drinks with high levels of polyphenols, antioxidants that act as fuel for microbes. (Nuts, seeds, berries, olive oil, coffee, green tea.)
Avoid snacking…try and increase intervals between meals to give your microbes a rest, occasionally skip meals or have an extended fast.
Eat plenty of fermented food containing live microbes (unsweetened yoghurt, kefir, raw milk cheeses).
Steer clear of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharine-they disrupt the metabolism and reduce the diversity (in animal studies it has led to obesity and diabetes).
Ditch processed foods as they also upset the microbe’s metabolism.
Spend more time in the countryside-rural dwellers have better microbes than city-dwellers so gardening and other outdoor activities are good!
75% of dopamine and 95% of serotonin is produced in our gut. These are our feel-good hormones so the old saying of ‘you are what you eat’ is still very valid.
Every system in our body is regulated by the QUALITY of the food we ingest.
We need to start making smarter food choices that will take care of our gut biomes…and the rest will take care of itself.
Farm Square Contributor