Let’s begin by answering the question: What is my gut microbiome?
But, please let us begin with this critical truth: your body knows what to do, moment to moment, from the very beginning when it was only a couple cells formed into a zygote which turns into a human body. Body intelligence operates on molecules and in split seconds of response time. It knows how to be healthy for a very long while. Humans at this stage of our history, are very good at compromising the natural coherence of their bodies, with many of them actively killing, maiming and disfiguring other humans.
Within every body, the alimentary track from mouth to rectum is a hollow tube through which can pass water, food and various other substances. Each organ along the way is critical to the health and life of the whole. Within each organ: stomach, small intestine, large intestine are to be found a veritable garden of many different kinds of bacteria which perform the basic task of receiving, digesting and eliminating the food we eat to nourish ourselves. Without these bacteria the body will sicken and eventually die.
Bodies often die; spirit you are does not.
Kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, yoghurts and kefir – all fermented foods and drinks – have been around for centuries, and now suddenly they are the rage. Why? Are we finally waking up to just how much the trillions of gut-friendly microorganisms living naturally in our guts (the gut microbiome) contributes to our mental and physical health, our long term vitality?
Some probiotic products especially those traditional and home-fermented foods such as kombucha (a naturally fizzy cocktail of green tea and sugar) tastes vinegary; kimchi (vegetables fermented Korean-style) is sour and fiery; sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage, whiffs of sulphur. All of these can intimidate palates inured to highly processed, chemically preserved, CAFO farmed meat, chicken, turkey and fishes; the onslaught of pesticide residue on especially oats, rye, wheat and all kinds of our western style, fast food blandness. If you have a taste aversion to the healthier types of foods, it is caused by your own internal imbalances made with those and other much less digestible (only barely) edibles. Literally you are ‘tasting’ your unhealthy gut. Whoops!
Because of how they are prepared, all these ‘good guys’ contain microorganisms that boost the diversity of those good bacteria, yeasts and fungi already living in your gut. Creating a flourishing gut flora has been linked to lower obesity, fewer autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc. and other assorted digestive problems, longer lifespan, good brain function and a great mood and happiness!
Some very big companies are beginning to take this on board. If you could never quite trust the mouldering kombucha you once nurtured in your airing cupboard, now you can buy some in the marketplace (er, just might be less reliable though, so search around and read labels beginning to end!) Brands, whose flavoured version of the fermented-milk kefir, can even be found in some big chain grocery stores. (Please understand, however, that mass-produced, pasteurized and sugared ferments will not contain the desired quality microorganisms as those made using traditional methods.) It really comes to something like this: value yourself and your life, educate yourself and go for it, let yourself experiment to discover how your body responds.
Let’s talk sauerkraut, the pickled cabbage beloved of central Europeans. Unlike the majority of supermarket-bought pickles, which are preserved in vinegar, the cabbage in real sauerkraut is massaged in salt until the juices are drawn out and the healthy microorganisms living in it produce lactic acid. This stops fermentation, while adding a vinegary tang; the result is a really good combination of a pro- and pre-biotics. As with live yoghurt, the probiotics are the friendly bacteria food contains, whereas pre-biotic denotes substances that feed your gut flora. These foods actually feed all the microbes in your gut and as it all comes to balance, you will notice feelings of ease and comfort, more energy, easier and deeper sleep. Win!
Of course, alcoholic drinks are fermented, too, and organic red wine in moderation is actively gut-friendly. This is partly to do with the polyphenols in red wine, with their capacity as antioxidants, and they have the added benefit of being quality fuel for all those good bacteria. It seems to be the combination of alcohol and polyphenols that is especially good; which is why it’s red wine and not a shot of Jamieson whisky or a Bud Lite!
If you were to view your microbiome as a garden, fibre would be fertilizer. The professionals reckon that most people need, at the very least, to double their intake. Foods containing the best fibre types for your microbes – prebiotic foods – include artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, avocadoes, leeks, celery, onions and garlic. Variety is the top priority. The latest research is showing that it’s the person who eats more diversity of plant foods in a week that promotes a healthy intestinal flow. This is easily a way of describing the “Mediterranean” style diet, with its kaleidoscope of fruits, vegetables, some meat, fishes, chicken, nuts, grains and legumes. Also, knowing your blood type and its characteristics will guide your choices. Check this out with Drs. D’Adamo, Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type.
Dr. Mercola has been diligent in his work to educate us about what is real about health. While his site is very data dense (quite different than this article), there is a great deal to understand and guide good choices to be found there. His work introduced me to cyclic fasting of which the simplest explanation is this: eat within about a 6 hour window in the day, fasting for the remaining 18 hours. Additionally, hydrate yourself with plenty of water, good old H2O at a rate of approximately ½ your body weight in ounces. That 180 pound male person needs to drink 90 oz. a day, abut 2 ½ quarts. Go golfing: another quart. Work hard digging a garden: likewise, another quart. Mum, doing that quick vacuum around the house, drink a quart. The better you are with this, the better you will feel, the more vital your body, the more stamina. And you will not fade some time in the later afternoon!
As you know, I’ve just had my 80th birthday and I am thankful to report that by using the cyclic or periodic fasting solution, I have dumped about 15 pounds. By paying attention like this, I changed the style and density of my whole nutritional focus. Now I’m into this plan about a year now, I am thankful to breathe better and just feel every so much more energetic. That all works very well at any age!
If there is a single motivation to all this: my personal work and the writing I do, it’s to promote within you (with good information presented with a light touch) enough to inspire and motivate you to actively become even more well. Imagine that at 80, I’m not a wimpy basket case, sickly, unwell and cranky. Makes a case, does it not? Bon Appetit!