You are what you eat. It’s an old phrase that holds a lot of truth. And, when it comes to the gut microbiome, it’s particularly accurate.
Research has shown that the foods we eat can have a huge influence on the gut microbiome – how it functions, how well it can perform its role in the body and how it, in turn, influences vital systems such as immunity.
A load of junk
Our modern convenience-based diets, which are generally processed and high in fats and sugars, can be particularly bad for the health of the microbes in our gut. This, as well as a lack of fibre which is also common for many of us, means that the gut finds it much harder to perform its vital role in keeping us healthy.
Eating ultra-processed foods, which are typically high in chemical additives, sugar, fat, and salt and low in fibre, can be associated with higher levels of potentially harmful, or “bad,” microbes which disrupt the important balance in the gut.
What can happen if your gut microbiome is unhealthy?
The exact blend of microbes in your gut has a direct influence on your health. Some microbes are beneficial while others can be harmful.
If the balance is pushed too far in favour of the harmful bacteria, the risk of developing health conditions, such as obesity and autoimmune disease, can be increased.
It’s also believed that diversity of bacteria in the gut can have a big impact on the health and resilience of your gut microbiome and its ability to fight diseases.
This can be seen in studies which show that people with a lower gut microbiome diversity are more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease, type 2 diabetes, eczema, and psoriatic arthritis.
What changes can you make to your diet to improve your gut microbiome?
You can support your gut microbiome by feeding it the foods that your good microbes like, such as:
• plant-based foods.
• fermented foods like kimchi or yogurt.
• Fresh, whole foods
• Good sources of dietary fibre
Although there are sensible universal steps we can all take to look after our gut microbiome, there isn’t a one size fits all approach because we each have a unique microbiome. Understanding which microbes live in your gut, and the impact they’re having on your health, can help you understand what foods can help nurture your gut and where you might have increased risks to be aware of. The report produced by Blue Horizon makes food recommendations based upon the levels of bacteria resident in your gut.