Happy Thursday y’all! Hope you are having a great week. It has been very rainy here this week, but yesterday, it was cooler at least. I want to talk a bit about health today since I have already shared my tomatoes with you earlier this week.
Your intestinal microflora–aka your microbiome–is an integral part of your immune system, and through the years research has shown that microbes of all kinds; bacteria, fungi, and even viruses; play instrumental roles in the functioning of the body. For example, beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, have been shown to counteract inflammation and control the growth of disease causing bacteria; produce vitamins, amino acids, absorb minerals, and eliminate toxins; control asthma and reduce risk of allergies; benefit mood and mental health; and impact weight.
The composition of the microbiome varies from one person to another based on factors such as diet, health history, antibiotic exposures, geographic location, ancestry, chemical exposure, hygiene, and other environmental exposures. It has become increasingly clear that destroying the gut flora with antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs, harsh environmental chemicals, and toxic foods is a primary factor in rising disease rates.
For all of these reasons and more, I recommend a diet rich in whole, organic, unprocessed foods along with traditionally cultured or fermented foods and plenty of fiber. A high quality probiotic supplement can also be a helpful ally to restore a healthy balance of gut flora, especially when taking antibiotics, and when eating processed foods, as both decimate the colony of beneficial microbes in the gut.
Improving diet is one of the quickest ways to improve gut health. Beneficial microbes feed on foods that are known to benefit health and vice versa. Sugar is a preferred food source for fungi that produce yeast infections and sinusitis, whereas healthy probiotic rich foods, like fermented vegetables, boost population of health promoting bacteria, thereby disallowing potential pathogenic colonies from taking over. Fiber is also important for a healthy microbiome. Some of the microbes in the gut specialize in fermenting soluble fiber found in legumes, fruits and vegetables, and the byproducts of this fermenting activity help nourish the cells lining the colon. Some of these fermentation byproducts also help calibrate the immune system, thereby preventing inflammatory disorders, such as asthma and Crohn’s Disease. Research shows that microbes starved of fiber can begin feeding on the mucus lining of the gut, thereby triggering inflammation, which may promote or exacerbate any number of diseases including ulcerative colitis.
Here are some things to do, and some things to avoid in restoring proper gut health:
Do – Eat plenty of fermented foods. Healthy choices include kefir, sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables.
Avoid – Antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. When taking antibiotics, be sure to reseed the gut with fermented foods or a high quality probiotic supplement.
Do – Take a high quality probiotic supplement if you do not eat fermented foods.
Avoid – Conventionally grown meat and other animal products, as they are fed low dose antibiotics and genetically engineered grains, loaded with Glyphosate, widely known to kill many bacteria.
Do – Boost your soluble and insoluble fiber intake, focusing on vegetables, nuts, and seeds, including sprouted seeds.
Avoid – Chlorinated/fluoridated water.
Do – Get your hands and feet dirty in the garden. Germ free living is not really in your best interest, as the loss of healthy bacteria can have a wide ranging affect on your mental, emotional, and physical health. Research shows that exposure to bacteria and viruses can serve as natural vaccines that strengthen the immune system, and provide long lasting immunity against disease. Getting your hands and feet dirty in the garden can reacquaint your system with beneficial microorganisms on the plants and in the soil.
Avoid – Processed food. Excessive sugar, along with otherwise dead nutrients, feed pathogenic bacteria.
Do – Open your windows. Research shows that doing so can improve the diversity and health of the microbes in your home, which in turn benefit you.
Avoid – Agricultural chemicals, Glyphosate (Roundup) in particular!
Do – Wash dishes by hand rather than in a dishwasher. This leaves more bacteria on the dishes, and decreases allergies by stimulating the immune system.
Avoid – Antibacterial soaps, as they kill off good and bad bacteria.
In conclusion, modern lifestyles have done much to damage the human gut microbiome. What most consider modern conveniences are literally destroying their health. It doesn’t have to be this way. Wee can live clean and healthy lives if we WORK at it.
For more information about Homestead Nutrition, or to make an appointment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a healthy and blessed week! 🙂