Our gut is often neglected when we think about our physical and mental health. But a healthy gut microbiome influences our well-being just as much as a healthy heart and a healthy brain.
Who or what is romping in the depths of our digestive system?
The word microbiome is a composition of micro (=small) and bios (=life), and that’s quite a good translation. These small organisms colonize all parts of our body and though also our guts. They live with us in a kind of partnership of convenience, a “symbiosis”. This alliance is valuable and absolutely worth protecting. For example, valuable vitamins are being produced by some bacteria that help us to stay healthy and beautiful and making us feel good. They do also convert components of food into substances making them easier to digest.
Our digestive system, the mucous membrane of the digestive tract, to be precise, is also the place where food from the outside world comes into contact with our inner world. Since our food is not only tasty but sometimes even dangerous, making special protective mechanisms necessary here. In addition to the mucous membrane, which serves as a filter, here our little roommates do also a great job in protecting us. They strengthen and support our immune system.
Not all bacteria are the same
But if the wrong, pathogenic (infectious) bacteria spread in our intestines, this can also make us ill. When our gut loses their sensitive balance, this is called “dysbiosis”. It has been shown that bacteria can produce substances that can be harmful to us and, for example, make the mucous membrane barrier in the gut more permeable to dangerous substances. Besides, these produced substances can trigger inflammations for which it has been shown that they increase the risk of countless diseases. So it is definitely worthwhile to select our subtenants carefully and then support their work in the best possible way.
Our intestinal microbiome is unique. This has also been shown by studies where participants metabolized the same food in very different ways. This is due to the differences in our intestinal microbiome.
A healthy diet is key
Who or what lives in our intestines is influenced by various factors. We receive a part of our microbiome at birth, but it is also changed in the course of life, by illness, medication (antibiotics) and eating behavior. Our nutrition is what we can actively decide upon and what allows us to make a real difference here!
That our food really does change something became particularly clear in a study where the intestinal flora of slim and overweight participants has been compared. The microbes have been very different in these two groups. But this does not mean that we are at the mercy of these nasty fattening microbes. Quite the opposite even, because of overeating influences the selection of the microbes in our intestines. Those who are better able to cope with the nutrient oversupply will increase in number. From cholesterol, saturated fatty acids (from animal products) and simple carbohydrates, these “fattening bacteria” produce substances that they need to reproduce themselves – a vicious circle.
How can you support the good intestinal microbes in your gut?
Recent results show that a plant-based diet promotes the bacteria that have a positive effect on our health. We can, for example, provide all the important substances they need to produce vitamins. Besides, we also can ensure that our intestines are inviting for these good bacteria. A study shows that after 24 hours of a plant-based diet, a change in the intestinal bacteria towards a better flora can be detected, already.
So let’s get started! If you need some recipe ideas that attract the good intestinal microbes, you can find them in my book 🙂 But attracting isn’t everything, our intestinal residents want to be spoiled with good food regularly, making them feel comfortable with us permanently. They certainly appreciate a plant-based diet! And when the good bacteria in your gut have gained the upper hand, you can trust what your gut tells you (#trustyourgut)!
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