Over the past 50 years or so we have seen dramatic increases in many diseases, notably autoimmune diseases; allergies; behaviour and learning problems; obesity; diabetes; cardiovascular disease etc. Much of the decline in human health can be attributed to changes in the microbiome, which has served humans well for as long as we have existed, but is now under great threat for a variety of reasons.
Inside each one of us is a massive “organism “that is rarely spoken about in day to day conversation called the microbiome . This microbiome has ancient roots and is part of the wonder of our creation.
The microbiome has micro organisms consisting of bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa,(known as the microbiota), many of which have still not been identified.
The microorganisms work together and depend upon one another, similar to the way things work in nature. If one becomes extinct it has an effect on the others as a link is missing in communication and cooperation.
Gut microbiota can cause or prevent disease, depending on the diet and medication as well as other influences. Micro organisms prefer certain foods for their health and a poor diet can affect them, making them less diverse and predisposing their human host to disease. The microbes in our gut love vegetables, wholegrains and fruits – especially apples and other pectin rich fruits.
The microbiota detoxify many environmental toxins and digest many foods that human enzymes cannot digest. A healthy microbiome promotes gastrointestinal tract mobility, keeps pathogens in check and plays an important role in creating a strong immune system. A diverse and healthy microbiome may increase the bioavailability of phytonutrients in the diet. We are only as healthy as our microbiome.
In a healthy and balanced gut environment, the microbes live in perfect harmony with the human host and with each other. The stool and flatulence are good indicators of gut health or ill health. The stool consistency should be well-formed with minimal odour and “winds”
A vile smell indicates that all is not well in the microbial kingdom, and if it is persistent, diseases could be developing. Probiotics play an important role in microbial recovery.
It has been shown that people who have a diverse and healthy gut microbiome have fewer allergies, less chronic disease, and better cognitive function.
How to keep your gut healthy?
- Avoid medication like antibiotics as antibiotics cause loss of gut microbial diversity and the effects of one course of antibiotics can be felt for up to two years.
- Herbal medicine provides good alternatives to many pharmaceutical medicines and can treat many infections effectively without disrupting the gut ecology.
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables, legumes, grains and fruits – Include plenty of prebiotics in your diet: apples, onions, garlic, sweet potato, oats, bananas and all fibrous vegetables. Berries and red wine with their high polyphenol content also have beneficial effects on gut microbiota.
- Avoid processed, refined and other foods with chemical additives.A good probiotic will ensure a healthy colon by replenishing the microbiome when the body is under stress due to factors like diarrhoea, antibiotic and other medication, age, surgical procedures and loss of appetite.