Your health begins in the gut

It looks like Hippocrates; the ancient Greek father of medicine was right all along. Gut health has become the hottest new area of scientific research. Scientists are just beginning to uncover the association between our gut microbes and health.

I hated science at school and still do but I’m all hooked on this human microbiome stuff. It’s fascinating!

Did you know that we are more bacteria than we are  human? Fascinating, right? Yes, they are more microbial than human cells in our body. Don’t panic, most of these microbes aren’t bad. These trillions of bacteria are called the microbiome (also known as gut flora). Most of our microbiome are located in our gut, and play multiple roles in our overall health and wellness.

Our gut flora maintains normal gastrointestinal function, digest food into nutrients our body can absorb, houses 80% of our immune system, and protect us against pathogens. We really can’t live without them; we are dependent upon them.

Unfortunately, most of us have unbalanced gut microbiome due to our modern lifestyle. There are many things that impair our gut flora such as processed and refined foods, antibiotics, environmental toxins, stress and much more.

Imbalances in our gut flora will flare up a host of health issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, asthma, and allergies. Therefore, it is imperative that we keep our gut flora healthy and balanced.

How to improve your gut microbiome

Many factors contribute to a healthy microbiome. Our gut flora is largely shaped by diet. What you eat determines what bacteria live in your gut.  Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fibre is associated with a healthy, balanced and diverse microbiome. 

Other factors include; environment, stress, physical activity, sleep, and microbial exposure.

Fermented foods

Another way you can improve your gut microbiome is by incorporating live probiotic foods into your diet. Fermented foods are a good source of beneficial bacteria that can help repair and balance your gut.

Fermentation is a metabolic process converting sugar to acids, gases and/or alcohol using yeast or bacteria. The process of fermentation involves creating conditions in which naturally occurring bacteria can thrive and proliferate (Sandor Katz-Wild Fermentation).

Fermentation preserves foods, makes them more digestible, flavourful and nutritious. Furthermore, fermented foods populate your gut with diverse species of microorganisms that you wouldn’t get from probiotic supplements.

Health benefits of consuming fermented foods

  1. Improve your gut health by reseeding your gut with beneficial bacteria
  2. Improve your mood and mental health
  3. Improve digestion
  4. Boost immune function
  5. Aid in the protection against  disease
  6. Fermented foods can help you lose weight
  7. Fermented foods enhance nutrients

If you are new to the world of fermentation, I would recommend you start with sauerkraut and kefir. You can find my recipe for sauerkraut here and kefir here.

Eating too much fermented foods can have nasty side effects. Therefore, start small and work your way up to give your gut time to adjust.

Cheers to happy guts!