What’s the one word that can help you improve your gut health?
If you’re trying to get healthy, it can get confusing out there when you’re trying to sort through all the conflicting dietary advice!
At Chuckling Goat, we’re not interested in diet fads that come and go. We’re all about the science. We’re evidence-based. We’re concentrating on the results of thousands of our customers’ microbiome tests, day after day.
And here’s some good news that we’ve learned, by staying focused on the evidence base:
There’s really only one word you really need to remember if you want to improve your gut health.
This single concept applies to so many areas of gut health.
INSIDE YOUR GUT
Like any ecosystem, the health of your microbiome is determined by its diversity. The more different types of microbes inside your gut, the more resilient your biome becomes to the invasions by opportunistic or “bad” bugs. You can’t avoid microbial attacks, but increased resilience makes your immune system more stable. This reduces the chances of an invasion turning into a full-blown disease. So, a diverse gut microbiome ultimately means a more robust immune system.
IN YOUR DIET
How many different foods do you eat in a week? 10… 20… 30? More?
Have you fallen into the rut of finding just a few foods that satisfy your current diet, and eating them over and over?
Research tells us that restrictive diets like Low FODMAP, keto and paleo can be damaging over time. Although they may produce short-term benefits, over the long run these restrictions time will cut back on the species of bugs inside your gut, which is going to impact your overall gut diversity. It makes sense, in the simplest of terms: if you don’t feed your gut bugs, they die. A restrictive diet produces a restricted microbiome.
The ideal diet for gut health includes 50 DIFFERENT FOODS A WEEK. You need to eat a rainbow, and rotate that rainbow! You also need to eat different types of grains, to give your gut bugs the fibre they need. Intolerant to gluten? That’s ok – focus on the “good grains” that are both low-GI and gluten-free: oatmeal, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and millet. Your gut bugs are all about the fibre. Give them multiple helpings of good grains and pulses every day, as well as fruits and veggies.
Research pearl: The results of an extensive systematic review of 35 clinical trials with a total of 1080 participants, published earlier in 2021, suggest that consuming different amounts and types of whole grains has a beneficial effect on the composition of gut bacteria. The most noteworthy change observed was an increase in Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, along with a reduction in opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria.
From: Whole Grains, Dietary Fibers and the Human Gut Microbiota: A Systematic Review of Existing Literature
FOR YOUR BODY
Even your exercise program can benefit from diversity! Although we all have a sense that “mixing it up” is a good thing when it comes to exercise, solid evidence is starting to support the fact that different types of exercise provide different benefits to your gut bugs. Scientists aren’t yet able to give us a specific “exercise prescription” for microbiome diversity, but clinical studies do show that physical activity makes a significant contribution to gut microbiome composition, as well as to the production of metabolites, increasing beneficial short-chain fatty acids like butyrate that reduce inflammation inside the gut.
FOR YOUR MIND
The gut and the brain are constantly communicating via the gut-brain axis, a complex network that employs the vagus nerve to send messages between the two. So whatever you do to support balance in your brain/mind is likely to have an impact on your gut, and vice-versa.
Think of treating your brain to a diversity of calming experiences, just as you do when feeding your gut a rainbow of different sources of fibre. Try different activities that soothe your mind, like yoga or breathwork. Experiment with the effects of walking in nature, writing or painting. Each of those activities feeds a different part of your brain and can help soothe the limbic system, the brain’s emotion control centre that takes during stress, causing havoc to your gut ecosystem.
Science tells us that diversity is an immense source of benefits, whether it comes in the shape of a rainbow of brightly coloured fruit, veg, whole grains and pulses, different types of exercise, or a varied range of mind-soothing activities. Embracing diversity can help us keep our gut ecosystem healthy. We’d like to think it’s about diverse living, rather than just diverse eating. What do you think?