The human microbiome has an estimated 100 trillion microbes, most of which reside in our gut. The gut microbiome has extensive functions such as development of immunity, defense against pathogens, production of short chain fatty acids, regulation of energy and metabolism, synthesizing vitamins, and has a large influence on human behavior and neurotransmitters in the brain.
THERE ARE 10X MORE MICROBES IN THE BODY THAN HUMAN CELLS
Bacteria, viruses and fungi residing in the microbiome are influenced by mode of birth delivery, early development, environmental factors, antibiotic usage, diet and lifestyle. Researchers are only recently beginning to understand the power of the microbiome. There has been an astounding amount of data showing that individuals with chronic illness or diseases have a compromised gut microbiome. It’s absolutely necessary to have both good and bad bacteria in our body, but when bad, opportunistic bacteria begins to overtake and out number the amount of good bacteria, that is when disease occurs.
WAYS TO SUPPORT THE MICROBIOME
eat a whole food, plant based diet
consume a variety of plant foods (atleast 30 varieties/ week)
eat a diet rich in fiber
reduce intake of sugar
cut out processed & fried foods
do an elimination diet to figure out food allergies or intolerances & remove them from your diet
reduce stress, practice yoga and meditation
exercise daily, even just a light walk
get 7-9 hours of sleep per night
consume fermented foods
reduce use of antibiotics and NSAID's
WHAT IS FOOD DIVERSITY
Most leading researchers and gastroenterologists will tell you that the single most effective way to ensure a healthy gut microbiome is by eating a diverse diet. A diet rich in multiple plant foods with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fermented foods. Studies have found that individuals who consume a minimum of thirty varieties of plant foods have the healthiest microbiome. Each plant food contains its own microorganisms and when you consume those foods, you’re introducing those new organisms into your microbiome. The more diverse your microbiome is, the more resilient it will be; able to fight off any infection or disease that may come its way.
I like to constantly keep a note on my phone to keep track of how many plant foods I eat per week. Everything goes, even spices count! For example for breakfast if I make porridge, it will usually include:
2- chia seeds
3- flax seeds
6- pumkin seeds
9- nut butter
There it is! Already ten plant foods in one meal! It could be so simple. And then another day of the week when I make porridge I'll swap out the walnuts and pumpkin seeds for almonds and sunflower seeds this time, and swap the banana and blackberries for strawberries and blueberries. Diversity, baby!!!
How many plant foods do you think you eat per week?
Start challenging yourself to eat a wider variety! Your gut will thank you, I promise it'll pay off!