“All diseases begin in your gut”-Hippocrates
Why is it that we pay attention towards our digestion only when something goes wrong? Oxford dictionary defines,‘digestion’ as the person’s ability to digest the food. There is a whole physiology behind how the digestion takes place? But, what is more, important is, maintaining a good digestive health!
Have you heard about probiotics and prebiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria which are good for health! I recently had a query where a person asked me bacteria is supposed to be harmful then how is it that you term this as good for health? This is when I started researching the world of bacteria to understand more and also be able to make others understand the goodness of bacteria.
Whenever you have stomach upset, curd rice is something which is always preferred. Curd rice is old-time grandma’s remedy. Have you ever wondered why curd is recommended? Well, curd has live bacteria which helps in settling your gut which helps in improving the stomach upset!
There are different types of microbes which work in different ways, some are good for the gut and some are not. These microbes together are termed as MICROBIOME.
Now let’s get into the depth of the topic!
Microbes are brilliant chemists which take up a small thing from our body and convert them into chemicals which are sometimes used for our body and sometimes they are not.
Healthy and unhealthy microbes
* Firmicutes are microbes which are used in the fermentation of beer and wine.
* Firmicutes help in clearing up the toxic wastes
* These microbes are found in your gut and its main function in the gut is to help in digestion of fats in your diet.
- Bacteroidetes helps in maintaining the lean body and helps in reducing the inflammation in the gut.
- They help in regulating immune responses which protects you against the autoimmune diseases (Autoimmune means body starts attacking its own cells)
- Bacteroidetes helps in breaking down of undigested fibre which we obtain from vegetables.
- Akkermansia is a rare type of microbes found in the gut,
- They don’t live on food remains.
- They live on mucus which is a slimy substance that is secreted by the gut lining to protect itself.
- It helps in reducing inflammation, so the count of akkermansia should be higher in your gut.
* This bacteria is inherited from your mother.
- This bacteria helps in keeping your body lean in spite of poor diets.
This bacteria helps in lining your intestine to protect against harmful microbes.
- It also helps in protecting the intestine from a fungal infection, heard about candida albicans?
- Lactobacillus works like a pesticide on these pathogens.
- Lactobacillus count in your gut will go down if you are on antibiotics which is why I always prescribe probiotics and prebiotics with lactobacillus with an antibiotic course.
- It is a very popular probiotic!
- Bifidobacterium helps in breaking down the indigestible fibre in the body and also protects your intestines against harmful microbes.
- This bacteria is inherited in you from your mother’s breast milk.
- It is a very popular probiotic!
As I had mentioned earlier, if there are some microbes which can help in maintaining the gut health then there are many microbes which help in creating gut problems!
Let’s talk about the unhealthiest microbes:
- Campylobacter is a very common cause of food poisoning with symptoms of abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea, and vomiting.
- Campylobacter is strong enough to be one of the reasons for miscarriage in women.
- This harmful bacteria is found in raw chicken available in the supermarkets.
- The most common mistake we do is washing the chicken thoroughly before cooking it. This makes the bacteria spread everywhere. The best technique is to rinse it with water from the top and cook it properly.
- E. coli
- Not every E.coli is harmful but there are some strains which can cause severe anaemia. They are also one of the leading causes of UTI (Urinary Tract Infections)
- coli in the gut mostly comes from uncooked meat. Catching it up from a raw milk is also quite common.
- Another common cause of food poisoning induced diarrhoea and stomach cramps are salmonella.
- You will start getting the symptoms within 72 hours after swallowing this unhealthy bacteria and it can last up to a week.
- Sometimes the food poisoning gets critical and hospitalization is required to recover from extreme dehydration caused by diarrhoea.
- I am sure you must have heard about Salmonella typhi which causes typhoid which can be fatal if left untreated.
- Clostridium difficile
This bacteria is always found in abundance in your gut lining which causes minor infections. If these minor infections flare up and start to give you symptoms, your doctor will give you a list of antibiotics to get rid of it. Because your healthy microbiome cannot cope up with those antibiotics, they are swiped out of the body which gives a chance to Clostridium difficile to capture all the gut space.
- Clostridium difficile is a very antibiotic resistant bacteria so it’s not very easy for antibiotics to swipe this off.
- Symptoms like watery stools, fever, and abdominal pain are common because of C.difficile flaring up.
Functions of healthy microbiome :
- It helps in regulating your body weight. Microbes can actually decide how much energy your body extracts from different types of food you eat. If you are unable to lose weight, one of the main reasons could be unhealthy microbiome.
- The microbiome helps in regulating your immune system. There was a research which proved that healthy microbiome helps in reducing the occurrence of cold and cough episodes. It also helps in reducing the inflammation of the body.
- The microbiome helps in taking the bits of food which our body cannot digest and it actually converts them in hormone and chemicals.
How to make your healthy microbiome diverse in your body?
- Please avoid antibiotics as much as you can because a week of antibiotic course can destroy your healthy microbiome for 3 weeks.
- Increase your outdoor activities, try to open your house windows. It helps in increasing the diversity of healthy microbes
- Include different types of seasonal fruits and vegetables in the diet.
- Try to connect with nature whenever you can. Put your hands into the soil. This connects your body to healthy microbiomes.
- Include foods rich in different healthy microbiomes as mentioned above.
Foods that nourish your gut:
(1). Olive oil
- Healthiest fats.
- Rich in polyphenols and antioxidants which helps in reducing the inflammation.
- Extra virgin olive oil is good to try!
(2) Oily fish
- Rich in good fats, omega 3
- Anti-inflammatory benefits
- Fish oil capsules available in the market are not as good as eating fish because of the poor quality. It might not give you the same effect as oily fish.
- Excellent source of flavonoids and polyphenols which helps in increasing the population of healthy gut bacteria!
- It’s good for your cardiovascular system.
- Always go for raw cocoa powder.
- Polyphenols are chemicals which are found in tea, coffee, wine, fruits, vegetables and dark chocolates. When you eat any of these foods, half of it passes through the small intestine to the large intestine where it is extremely beneficial to increase the population of healthy microbes.
- Red wine helps in reducing the inflammation in your body.
PS: I normally get this question that how do you know about inflammation in your body? Well, there is a blood test which is most commonly done called as CRP- C reactive protein which gives you an idea of the levels of inflammation in your body. Research has shown that consumption of anti-inflammatory foods reduces inflammation by 45% in the body.
- Turmeric is a gut-friendly spice. There are other herbs and spices like thyme, oregano, basil, ginger, cumin which are having anti-inflammatory benefits but turmeric works in increasing the population of healthy microbes,
- The best way to consume turmeric for gut health is 1 tsp of turmeric with ½ tsp of honey in 150 ml of lukewarm water before bed.
- An active component of curcumin is also available in capsule form but make sure about the quality of curcumin used to prepare the product is genuine.
Foods to avoid for better gut health:
- Sugar is cheap which has an excellent addictive effect.
- It increases the cravings for particular food which encourages the growth of unhealthy microbes in the guts. All these unhealthy microbes need more sugar to survive which increases the population of unhealthy microbes in the gut and decreases healthy microbes!
(2) Artificial sweeteners
- They have a huge impact on your body, especially on your gut. It depletes the population of akkermansia (The healthy microbe which I have mentioned above!).
- Addition of probiotics with artificial sweeteners might not give the required effect!
(3) Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- MSG or monosodium glutamate works as a leptin blocker. Leptin is a hormone which tells your brain “I am full”. That’s how you crave more foods which have MSG!
My next upcoming article will cover different probiotic and prebiotic sources, how to choose your probiotics and gut-friendly recipes!
To be continued……..