There’s increasing evidence that the balance of micro organisms (microbiota) in the body is paramount to overall general health. As humans we are colonised both on the skin surface and also internally. All organs carry micro organisms and the gut microbiome has recently attracted a great deal of scientific interest.
We look at ecosystems in rivers, seas and rainforests and there is hardly a person out there that does not consider there is a requirement for balance. A natural environment where removal of the trees has an impact on smaller creatures and vice versa. There is also a requirement for balance in our own bodies. This means that what is commonly described as “good bacteria” needs to be in balance with the rest of the microbiota. A typical way of looking at this is if you take a course of antibiotics. Often the prescriber will suggest a “live yogurt” that contains helpful bacteria cultures such as lactobacilli and can assist in averting the unpleasant side effects of antibiotics on the gut.
I think in the main broad messages of healthy eating “5 a day” and the consumers’ interpretation of basing meals on starchy carbs is a bit of a confused picture, or perhaps nutritionists and healthcare professionals don’t emphasise the reality that is keeping a balance. Not just a “balanced diet” not just “carbs”, but a diet that balances the body. Carbs are recommended not as sugars, not as refined carbs, not white pasta with fatty, high sugar, high salt sauces, but unrefined fibrous carbs. The brown rice, wholemeal foodstuffs, peas, beans type of carbs. What do you get in a teaspoon of sugar? Well, sugar (pure carb) actually. What do you get in a teaspoon of oats? You get vitamins and minerals in addition to complex carbs soluble and insoluble fibre – protein and fat. Fermented products such as kefir are also thought to promote a healthy gut and may also assist as anti inflammatories. There’s so much more to learn.
There is now an increasing number of studies which indicate that a healthy gut impacts on so many areas of health. Studies continue with observations in asthma, brain disease and autism in addition to colonic problems such as IBS and overall immunity. Our choices of food are not the only factor, but perhaps if we make small adjustments by increasing fibre, vegetables and fruits, perhaps consuming some fermented products and exercising regularly we may be doing ourselves a favour in ways that have not yet been fully documented. There is no quick fix for a healthy gut, no one “supplement” or magic pill, it’s all about a healthy lifestyle. Don’t aim for an overnight change it should be achievable, so small steps as you go. Any advice for a healthy diet please contact me whether it’s a family plan, individual, sport or something more specific, I’m here to help.