Have you heard all the hoopla lately about something called the microbiome? To put it simply, it’s about the gut and its health. It’s all those itty bitty little bugs that live in your intestinal tract. And keep it working well. They have some really important roles to play :
- The gut microbiome is made up of billions of bacteria and other microorganisms that co-exist with other human cells in the lower intestine
- The gut microbiota helps with digestion, metabolism, immune function and brain health
- Our gut microbiome begins to develop in very early life, and is influenced by genetics, delivery method, age, stress, illness, environment, medication use, and diet
- There is no one ideal ‘Healthy Gut’. Everyone’s gut is different, and it’s important that bacteria are able to function at their best, rather than having specific types and numbers of bacteria
- The ‘balance’ of our gut can be disrupted by several factors, and this can promote inflammation – a potent risk factor for physical and mental disorders.
- There are several things that we can do to help our gut microbiota become or remain healthy and balanced
You may recall me mentioning that himself, my other half, has had a torrid couple of months with a very nasty abscess on his shoulder that almost turned septic. In fact, the doctor told him ‘you have it cut out as soon as possible, or you will die.’ That really was a no brainer.
One of the things that happened in treating it was that he was pumped full of antibiotics. Really heavy duty ones. Antibiotics don’t just kill the nasty bugs. They kill all the good ones too. So after his treatment was finished, he had some serious work to do to re-establish his microbiome. He did this with a course of strong probiotics. It looked, and smelled, for all the world like dirt. But it worked. Most supermarkets stock probiotic enhanced foods, particularly yoghurts.
There are other things that help restore and maintain a healthy microbiome. Eating fermented foods is great. Good choices are unsweetened yoghurt; kefir, which is a sour milk drink with five times as many microbes as yoghurt; raw milk cheeses; sauerkraut; kimchi, a Korean dish made from garlic, cabbage and chilli; and soybean-based products such as soy sauce, tempeh and natto. This site provides more comprehensive information.