Good health and weight control; it’s all in the bugs according to New York Magazine
A lot has been said about gut health and why many of us suffer from diseases, obesity, inflammation, allergies, or autoimmune disorders. While I have informed our readers about this connection previously, more people, scientists, and physicians are seriously considering our American diet needs a reboot. Weight control may be more difficult because of the bacteria in our gut.
Processed foods, according to a recent New York Magazine article is starving us of the needed nutrition for a healthy gut. While I am not new to this idea, and books have recently been written on the subject, most of us do not get the right types of fiber for our digestive tract to eat as well. The idea of feeding the digestive tract is something most of us do not think about when sitting down to dinner.
Most of us go to a salad bar, or some other place, load up with some greens, cucumbers and believe we are eating properly. Some people are now rethinking this idea and believe that by not getting the right types of fiber and foods, the bacteria that help us digest and stay healthy are being starved. Apparently, it is the diversity of bacteria in our gut that is necessary for our overall health and survival.
When studying areas of the world where people live the longest, a healthy gut and the foods needed for gut health share many similar qualities.
While the article talks about a family that has gone “all in” to make sure they ingest only the best grains and foods, while they are teaching their children and obsessing for themselves about the habit, they are also an interesting study on what if we did things differently and really changed our diets. The foods apparently have made a difference in the families overall health, reduced their allergies, and from testing stool samples, have concluded that to restore a gut to a better state after taking an antibiotic, you need more than yogurt or acidophilus. You need to feed yourself to feed your gut to reap the benefits which include a healthy immune system, low levels of inflammation, high energy levels, and proper weight control
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Cute Family. And You Should See Their Bacteria. The scientific clan bringing microbe diversity to the dinner table.
On a Saturday evening in late March, as the sun ducked behind the ridges separating Redwood City from the Pacific, I stood on the porch of an unassuming bungalow holding a bag of my own feces. I was to be a dinner guest of Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, Stanford scientists who study the microbiota, the ecosystem of microbial organisms that live inside us and may have a role to play in preventing maladies such as obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, and diabetes. Earlier in the day, I’d helped Justin, Erica, and their two young daughters harvest lacinato and curly kale from their front-yard-garden beds, then spread a fresh layer of turkey manure for the next round of plantings. Afterward, as I drank a refreshing kale-and-pear smoothie Erica had prepared as a reward for our efforts, Justin sidled up to me with a proposition. “You’ve embarked on an exciting new endeavor,” he said. “No pressure at all, but if you want to document it” — he pulled from his shirt pocket a test tube with a miniature plastic spoon inside. A few hours later, I stood on Justin and Erica’s front steps holding the now-burdened tube, which I’d tactfully concealed in a Starbucks cup, then packed in a clear plastic bag of hotel ice.
Our colons are home to 100 trillion bacteria, representing some 1,200 different species, which have evolved in symbiosis with their hosts over the course of millennia. Their cells outnumber our own by a factor of ten, but much of the microbiota remains terra incognita, and the precise ways in which it affects our health are still dimly understood. The Sonnenburgs believe, however, that the root of many Western diseases can be traced to our languishing guts, which we’ve done about as good a job looking after as we have the rain forests and the whales. The American diet is high in processed foods digested in the stomach and small intestine, leaving little fuel for the microbes in our large intestine. The result, they say, has been a “mass extinction event,” in which species of bacteria that have lived in our bodies for most of human history have died off, making it harder for our microbiota to perform its role in tuning our immune system and regulating inflammation.
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