We know that our gut microbiome is a lot more complex than we originally thought. Each person’s individual microbiome is unique to them and could be responsible for a whole realm of health conditions and characteristics.
Our gut health can affect our mood, weight, cravings, allergy responses and immune system. So how can you improve your health by looking into your gut microbiome? These 5 fascinating things about your microbiome are a good place to start and could be life changing…
Yo-yo dieting loop as a result of your microbiome memory
Ever been stuck in a yo-yo dieting loop? Well there could be a good reason for this and it’s to do with your microbiome “memory”. It’s common for people to have rebound weight gain after dieting and often they gain more rebound weight each time.
Studies have found that this may be due to gut’s ‘memory’ of the previous weight allowing for a quicker bounce back to pre-diet weight as soon as the person returns to a higher calorie diet. It is thought that we might be able to better manage obesity by altering the microbial profile of your gut .
Intermittent Fasting and could increase microbiome diversity
Intermittent fasting has been gaining popularity in Western society. Likely due to its beneficial effects for improving mental clarity, weight loss in Type 2 diabetes, and restoring circadian rhythm. In addition to this, we are also now learning about its benefits for your gut microbiome too.
Studies show that intermittent fasting can increase your microbiome diversity, increase your number of Short Chain Fatty Acids (required for maintaining a healthy gut lining), and reduce gut inflammation. So far most studies have been carried out only in mice however when we look at other cultures practices that fast, such as Ramadan, we can see these overall health benefits. It’s also important to note that every individual has a different microbiome and so will respond differently to fasting.
Your microbiome is more heavily influence by your environment than your genes
Our microbiome starts to develop from the moment we are born and enter into this world. Although our genetics have some impact on our microbiome, studies are showing that environmental factors can in fact have a greater impact on our gut’s microbiome profile.
We know that our diet is a huge lifestyle factor that can alter our microbiome, specifically a healthy diet high in plant-based fibre appears. However there are other environmental factors that can also impact. For instance our sleep behaviour, how much alcohol you drink, whether you smoke, what chemicals you are exposed to, and even your social background such as cultural norms and stress levels.
Some studies have found that air pollution can have a major impact on your gut microbiome. They found that those being more exposed to ground level O3 (Ozone also referred to as smog) tend to have lower microbiome diversity. Getting back to nature and cleaning the body from environmental toxins could improve your gut health.
The Mediterranean diet could be the best for your gut
A Mediterranean diet appears to be most beneficial for your gut, mental health and even Type 2 diabetes! A diet high in plant-based fibre helps feed the good bacteria in your gut and increases microbiome diversity.
When there is less fibre as a food source the gut bugs will start to eat the gut lining which can lead to leaky gut. This means the gut doesn’t function optimally and may lead to increased infections, digestion issues, and even affect the amount of nutrients you absorb from your food.
So what’s in a Mediterranean diet? It consists of eating lots of fresh produce, whole grains and legumes, and some healthy fats. People should aim to be eating:
- A big variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains,
- A moderate amount of fresh fish and dairy,
- Some healthy fats each day from foods like olive oil, seeds and nuts
- A minimal amount of red and white meats
You should avoid eating processed or refined foods, or foods high in refined sugar.
Exercise impacts your gut health
Interestingly, studies are showing that your gut health can change depending on how much exercise you do. They have found that athletes have a uniquely healthy microbiome and that cardio-training such as running is linked with a higher microbiome diversity.
Leading into Spring and Summer so many of us start looking at dieting to lose weight but maybe we should be reframing this. What if your goal was to improve your gut health?
From what we know, good gut health leads to an overall healthier you. Focusing on improving microbiome diversity and gut integrity could lead to better weight management, more energy, better sleep and a better mental health state.