Nourish your allies, to boost your health

The human microbiome is a collection, of all microbial genes that inhabit the human body. The microbiome consists of over 100 trillion microbial cells, outnumbering human cells by 10-to-1.

The human gut microbiota (microbes, that resides in your intestines) are our allies, their main role is too keep us healthy. The type of microbial communities we harbour can determine health or disease.

A healthy community contributes to the following:

  • Gastrointestinal motility, digestion & elimination

  • Immune modulation

  • Synthesis of B vitamins, including folate, vitamin C & K

  • Mineral Absorption

  • Mood regulation

  • Modulates gene expression

  • Decrease inflammation and augments detoxification

Negative alterations, to bacterial communities are linked to many diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, mood disorders and skin issues.

The good news, we can alter our microbial communities by boosting beneficial bugs, through diet adjustment.

Foods that increase, beneficial bacteria:

Prebiotic Foods

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibres and sugars, which are fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. This process selectively enhances beneficial endogenous bacteria, such as bifobacteria. The process also yields, SCFAs (short chain fatty acids), the main source of fuel, for the cells that line the colon. SCFAs are involved in cell differentiation, increase mineral absorption, produce nutrients for the colon, are anti -inflammatory, suppress tumour formation and support gut integrity. SCFAs also lower the pH of the colon, making it a less favourable environment for pathogenic bacteria.

Types of Prebiotic foods:

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) & Inulin - Garlic, Onions, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion roots, apples.

Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) - Legumes, Broccoli, cabbage, beetroot, fennel, sunflower seeds.

Resistant starch - Legumes, cooked and cooled potatoes, cashews, raw oats, plantains.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods contain probiotics, exogenous bacterial species that can colonise the gut temporarily. Fermented vegies can encourage healing of the gut lining, restore gut integrity, aid digestion and support immunity. Fermented vegetables have increased nutrient quantity and enhance mineral bioavailability.

  • Sauerkraut and Kimchi

  • Kefir and medicinal yoghurts

  • Kombucha and beet Kvass

  • Miso

Polyphenols

Poyphenols are chemical components found in some plants As well as being antioxidants they also act in a similar way to prebiotics increasing beneficial bacteria while inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

Foods highest in polphenols:

Green tea

Cacao/dark chocolate

Nuts & seeds - flaxseed meal, hazelnuts, pecan, almonds, black beans

Fruit - blackcurrant, blueberries, cherries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries

Vegetables - black & green olive, globe artichoke, red onion, broccoli, endive (curly), spinach, red carrot

Lastly, keep it diverse, include an abundance of coloured plant based foods daily.

Please note: Some of the foods recommended above, may cause abdominal discomfort in some, conditions.

Foes, the following destroy and have a negative impact on beneficial flora:

Very low carb and high protein diets - Very low carbohydrate diets, starves bacteria of food, increasing the pH of the colon, making it a more favourable environment for pathogenic bacteria. High consumption of red meat & processed meat may contribute to DNA damage and decrease beneficial bacteria produced by SCFAs.

Diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and fat- Contribute to microbial changes which affect brain function. In mice a diet high in sugar and fat resulted in decline in cognitive flexibility, and a decrease in short and long term memory.

Artificial Sweeteners - Has a negative impact on diversity, increases the pH of the colon and may impair glucose tolerance.

Stress - The gastrointestinal tract is one of the most sensitive organs in response to stress. Stress can affect, microbial populations and increases pathogenic bacteria like clostridium. Stress is detrimental to digestion; it affects, gastric acid secretion, gut motility, mucosal blood flow and increases sensitivity in the intestines.

Alcohol - Excessive alcohol consumption leads to intestinal dysbiosis (an imbalance of microbes) and bacterial overgrowth. Bacteria translocates from the gut wall, into the bloodstream to the liver causing inflammation and

scarring.

Medications

Antibiotics- A, single course can mess up your gut bacteria for up to a year. While triple therapy, used to treat Helicobacter pylori can damage organisms for up to 4 years, some bacteria will never recover.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS)- Damage the gut lining, may cause bleeding, ulceration and increase less favourable strains of gram-negative bacteria, like E.coli.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (Antacids) - The role of antacids is to suppress stomach acid. Unfortunately strong stomach acid is vital, for protein breakdown and killing off harmful bacteria when swallowed. Lack of stomach acid can increase the risk of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, bacterial infections and nuritional deficiencies.

Experiencing gastrointestinal issues and need assistance? Please contact me, for an appointment - 0422 160 154.

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