The Microbiome

Out digestive system is home to trillions of helpful micro-organisms… or it should be! These organisms that inhabit our bowel and perform vital functions are often referred to as the microbiome.
These helpful microbes are one of the first lines of defence against the unhelpful bacteria and viruses that can make us unwell. They also protect the lining of our digestive system, help us process and extract nutrients and energy from food and INCREDIBLY, 90% of the serotonin that our nervous system & brain need to regulate our moods and stay mentally well is produced by these helpful microbes, not by ourselves! The gut is now often referred to as the ‘second brain’ for this reason, as well as the fact that there are more neurones (nerve cells) in our guts that there are in our spine.
The benefit of a healthy microbiome is becoming increasingly clear, yet we also know that our modern lifestyles (poor diet and antibiotic use in particular) are having a detrimental effect on this amazing system.
If our diet is lacking in nutrients, fibre and wholesome foods, the bacteria in our gut don’t have the environment that they need to grow and thrive. A single course of broad-spectrum antibiotics can kill up to a third of our healthy gut bacteria and it could potentially take 2 years for this correct. This should not deter people from taking any antibiotics that the doctors feel you need and there are things we can do to help restore the balance.
It may be helpful to think of our microbiome as being like a garden…
• We can ‘sow’ healthy bacteria into our gut through certain foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha.
• However, if the ‘soil’ in our gut isn’t given the bacteria the nutrients they need, then they will not germinate and flourish.
• We also need to create a healthy soil (gut environment) by eating fibre, whole (plant-based) foods of a variety of colours (such as carrots, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges) … in other words, try and ‘eat the rainbow’ every day.
• If we develop the soil by eating the right foods and we sow bacteria through fermented foods, then the garden in our gut will blossom!