A new study, published in January of this year, revealed the deep link between the food we eat, our gut microbiology, and our overall health. The study was a product of international scientists from 10 different institutions analyzing the dietary habits of over 1,000 individuals.
One author involved in the research, Prof. Tim Spector of King’s College, expressed one of the main findings of the study: “When you eat, you are not just nourishing your body, you are feeding the trillions of microbes that live inside your gut.”
One of the more surprising findings was that our genetics has less to do with our risk of having certain illnesses. The greater predictor for certain illnesses in individuals is the microorganisms in their intestines (the gut microbiota).
Most interesting of all is that the research concludes that it might be possible to adjust a person’s gut health, and therefore their overall health, by creating an individualized food plan. That being said, there are some foods that everyone should be eating to help create a high-functioning gut microbiome.
Whole foods are fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and animal foods that are minimally processed — meaning when you get them from your local grocery store or farmer’s market, they are as close to their original, harvested state as possible. Unlike boxed, processed foods, these foods don’t need added vitamins and minerals.
They come naturally loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. One Yale University study’s consistent finding was that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”
Even though you are choosing to eat “whole foods,” that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been harmful chemicals involved in its growth. These chemicals destroy good bacteria in the gut and impair many critical functions in the body.
A good rule of thumb for those looking to purchase chemical-free food that has not been genetically modified in a lab is to purchase products that are USDA-certified organic products. If a product is USDA organic, it is also already non-GMO.
USDA organic seals mean that the food was not allowed to use GMOs, herbicides, pesticides, dyes, antibiotics, and many other toxic chemicals. It also means that animals must eat certified organic feed, must be able to graze on pasture, and cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics. These “extra” ingredients in foods can really wreak havoc on our gut microbiome, so simply eliminating them gives our bodies the healthy, nutritional food our body needs.
According to a Harvard Medical School article, “An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species inhabit every normal, healthy bowel. These microorganisms (or microflora) generally don’t make us sick; most are helpful. Gut-dwelling bacteria keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.”
And the great news is that many of these microorganisms are found in certain foods high in probiotics. Fermented foods, yogurts, and even drinks (like Kombucha) are especially great at helping us create a healthy balance of gut bacteria. The same article explained that “a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria.”
The food we give to our gut matters to our overall health. While it can take time to form new habits, research shows that it is worth the energy. Having great gut health can help you fight illnesses, have better sleep, maintain a healthy weight, improve mood, and give you higher energy levels with better digestion of vitamins and minerals.
At OWM, we focus on supplementation with key nutrients. We practice Nutritional Medicine to stimulate the body’s own healing and regenerative functions. If you would like a comprehensive approach to feeling better, OWM will walk with you to better health. Click here to learn more about our concierge wellness offerings.