Modern life is the enemy of your gut.
That delicate, fragile ecosystem inside you is damaged every day, by the things I like to call the “4 Horsemen of the Gut Apocalypse”:
- Environmental toxins
All of these things can knock out fragile sub-species of bacteria inside your microbiome, leaving the your internal ecosystem impoverished.
But why is this so important, and why does it have such terrible consequences for your gut?
Because the health of an ecosystem is measured by the links between the organisms in it.
A complex ecosystem is a safe, stable ecosystem.
An impoverished ecosystem is a sick ecosystem.
What does this mean? Does it just mean that you want an ecosystem with a lot of organisms in it?
Not really. Imagine a huge monoculture field, growing millions of wheat plants, but nothing else. Lots of organisms there – but not a lot of links. It’s not complex. If one type of predator comes along, that likes to eat wheat, that entire field is going to be wiped out. That’s why modern agriculture needs to use so many pesticides and poisons.
Now imagine a forest ecosystem. Any predator is going to have to contend with a whole host of defenses – nothing can be wiped out in a single go. The ecosystem is protected by its own complexity.
Nature is complex – not simple. And that’s no accident – nature has been perfecting these defenses for 15 billion years!
It’s the same inside your gut, as it is in the outside planet.
You want complexity inside your gut. Lots of different strains of bacteria in there, all jostling around and defending one another. You’re ingesting pathogens and bad bugs all the time, and unless you have multiple layers of defense, they’re going to get a foothold and start doing damage.
And all those different multiple strains of bacteria needs lots of different kinds of foods to eat! Foods contain macronutrients and micronutrients – trace amounts of esoteric minerals – things that you would never consider, but which are essential for your gut bugs.
The Taymount Clinic, which sources donors that have particularly health gut microbiomes, encourages their donors to eat FIFTY DIFFERENT FOODS PER WEEK.
How many foods do you eat?
Challenge yourself! Take yourself to the fruit and veg aisle of the supermarket like you would take a child on a field trip. Shop with your eyes – yellow, purple, red! What looks delicious? What can you get excited about? If you get it home and don’t know how to cook it, toss it into a smoothie!
How about seaweed? Wakame seaweed is delicious tossed into a soup, and re-wilds your gut with nutrients from the sea. Try snacking on dried unsweetened coconut flakes. Buy yourself a selection of different nuts – walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts – these all have great health benefits and good fats. Keep them in a bowl by your desk to snack on during the day.
In the words of Tim Spector, Professor of genetic epidemiology and author of The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat, “You are never eating alone.” You’ve always got a few trillion of your best gut buddies to feed as well. So re-wild your gut by eating a biodiverse diet, and spread the joy!