Updated: Sep 11, 2020
You're probably aware that eating a variety of quality foods each day provides the body with enough nutrients for growth, development, optimal function and health. But there’s much more to good eating than simply just the nutrients. In the past decade, great work has been done discovering how the microbes we host, influence our health.
We now know that eating doesn't just nourish the trillions of cells belonging to us, but nearly the equal number of microbes that call our bowels their home. Turns out, the level of care we give them is reciprocal – if we look after them, they look after us, and I'm sure you catch the drift if we don't.
Our gut microbes (mostly bacteria) thrive on fibre, just as much as we do. In particular, they get pretty darned excited about prebiotic fibre, otherwise known as fermentable fibre. It encourages a diverse ecosystem, much like the Daintree Rainforest, but admittedly much uglier. And this greater diversity is ultimately better.
Great sources of prebiotic fibre? Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lentils and beans.
So how do happy gut bugs help us?
When fed well, they not only multiply in numbers and drown out the bad guys, but excrete beneficial by-products called short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). Beneficial SCFA are linked to improved gut health, metabolic function, immune system regulation, inflammation and mood. A recently published study even found a lack of certain microbes may lead to allergy. More work of course needs to be done (because science), but what I'm getting at, is that it's an interesting space to watch.
You might be now thinking – couldn't I just take a prebiotic fibre supplement along with my vitamins and minerals? Well it's not that simple. The plant-derived foods I listed above don't just keep our microbes happy, but provide phytonutrients (phyto = plant). These act as antioxidants and fend off disease-causing free-radicals.
So, the message here? Opt food, not a bottle. Food is the superior age and disease fighter. If you're finding nutritious food too tough to bear, I can help with that.