November 11, 2019

Written by Nicolette Truscott

Coming off the back of a long weekend and the silly season just around the corner, many of us may be feeling sluggish and uninspired after a period of overindulgence. And for good reason.

The link between our diet, gut microbiome and many aspects of our health are being well established through literature. Our gut health has been linked to many chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers as well as strong implications in mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. [1]

Currently there are estimates that the ratio of bacteria cells to human cells in our body is 1.3 to 1.[2] This means that we are carrying more bacteria cells than what makes up what we think of as our own body.  We are, in essence, an ecosystem having a symbiotic relationship with many microbial travellers. Our diet and lifestyle habits directly impact our own little ecosystem.  In fact, experiments have shown that dietary alterations can produce a temporary but large shift within only 24hrs [2].  We are not only feeding ourselves with the choices of food that we eat, but also unknowingly selectively breeding our bacteria buddies.

The balance of these gut bacteria is vital for digestive functioning and has an impact far beyond this. Faecal transplants are now a legitimate medical intervention for individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Some very interesting research discussed in the media, albeit on animals, was one in which gut bacteria from obese and thin humans was implanted into rats and their condition monitored. [2]  In this, it was observed:

“We were able to show that if you take lean and obese humans and take their faeces and transplant the bacteria into mice you can make the mouse thinner or fatter depending on whose microbiome it got.”[2]

This has fascinating repercussions for how we think about obesity, health and wellbeing with potential for more important, concrete research to come.

SIGNS you may need to pay more attention to your diet and support gut health:

  • Abnormal bowel motions such as constipation or diarrhea
  • Sugar cravings
  • Bloating and gas
  • Fatigue and brain fog
  • Skin irritations
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Food intolerances
  • Mood disturbances

Healthy eating guidelines – general lifestyle for cultivating a healthy gut:

Mindful eating – eating slowly, in a distraction/screen free environment and allowing all your attention to be placed on the act of eating encourages proper chewing of food. You are more likely to be aware of the ‘full’ signal when it comes and as such are less likely to overeat and be more likely to encourage efficient digestion

Balance and variation – Different microbes assist with the breakdown of different foods. As a result, eating a wide variety of whole foods helps to keep your biome diverse. Eating a typical ‘western’ diet high in excessive starches and sugars can contribute to inflammation in the intestines and lead to digestive distress and mental disharmony. [3]

Managing Stress and Lifestyle Choices – stress can impact our digestive functioning and disrupt our quality of life. Ensuring that we are taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally with adequate good quality sleep, mediation, gentle moderate exercise and good quality foods is important for our gut and overall health

Reduce alcohol and smoking behaviour– Smoking not only increases a risk of cancer but can alter the impact the intestinal microbiome negatively. [4]

Seek help if appropriate- Personal health is an individual journey affected by numerous factors such as lifestyle, genetics and medications and as such what is best for each person is different. For assistance improving your digestion, and to exclude any serious causes, see your primary health care practitioner.

 

RECIPE- SIMPLE KOMBUCHA MIMOSA MOCKTAILS

Ingredients: (serves 2)

330ml bottle kombucha

1 cup orange juice

1-2 strawberries

Divide strawberries in bottle of 2 wine glasses.  Pour ½ cup of orange juice in each glass. Add Kombucha over the top.  Enjoy!

If you are needing some help with your digestive health book an appointment by calling the clinic on (03) 5429 3610 or book online by clicking the link below.

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References

[1] Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Disease Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(4), 7493-7519; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms16047493

[2] Gallagher, J. (2018) More than half your body is not human Accessed 8/11/19 from: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-43674270

[3] Relationship between diet-related changes in the gut microbiome and cognitive flexibility Neuroscience. 2015 Aug 6;300:128-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.05.016. Epub 2015 May 14.

[4] Smoking and the intestinal microbiome Arch Microbiol. 2018 Jul;200(5):677-684. doi: 10.1007/s00203-018-1506-2. Epub 2018 Apr 6.

 

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