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A recent presentation by Marla Cunningham, a leading naturopath, has shed some fascinating new light on the underground world of our gut microbiome. Here is a takeaway summary of all the need-to-know information that will help you to take better care of your friendly bacteria;
- We are starving our good bacteria – Most of us know that taking a course of antibiotics can wipe out our good bacteria. But our diet can be equally as detrimental to the state of our microbiome. The Western diet is typically high in calorie dense foods, and while we are getting fatter as a nation, we are actually starving our good gut bacteria. There is a HUGE difference between nutrient dense foods vs calories dense foods, and it is the calorie dense foods, like pastries, cakes, chocolate, bread and pasta, that are starving and killing off our good bacteria while also making us fat in the process. We need to swap out the calorie dense foods for nutrient dense food, like fruits, vegetables and legumes. They are packed full of nutrients for us and fibre for our good bacteria.
- Frequent medication use could be killing off your good bacteria – Common medications like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for reflux, and laxatives, are damaging our microbiome ecosystem. A recent study involving healthy sets of twins has shown PPIs to have a significant affect on the health of the gut microbiome, allowing for bacterial overgrowth of certain strains which can then cause dysbiosis of the gut. The common, often daily use, of these medications, makes this extremely concerning.
- Your Great Grandmother’s gut microbiome influences the health of your gut microbiome today! – A diet low in fibre, eaten over several generations, can lead to the extinction of certain strains of gut bacteria, which can cause health problems that compound with each new generation. Studies have also shown that this generational loss of bacterial diversity cannot be corrected with the reintroduction of a high fibre diet. That is why it is so important to commit to a nutrient dense diet, not only to maintain the health of your gut bacteria today, but to maximise the health of possible future generations.
- Quality over quantity! – We used to be of the belief that more strains in a probiotic equalled better. However, our bodies house trillions of bacteria, and a probiotic supplement is really just a drop in the ocean. Therefore, it is much more important to supplement with specific, clinically proven strains, at clinically proven doses. The aim of a probiotic is to influence positive change in our gut microbiome, balancing and promoting regrowth of our native gut bacteria and inhibiting the infiltration of pathogens.