You may think you eat food to fuel your body but that’s not all it does. Emerging research shows that what you eat actually influences the composition of your microbiome, which can help you feel healthier and lose weight.
“We have entered the gut-health era of diet and nutrition and it will be here for a long time indeed. The science is simply too persuasive to suggest otherwise,” top expert Jeannette Hyde says.
Microbiome is the term used for the bacteria, particularly those living in the intestines.
Hyde, a London-based certified nutritional therapist, is the author of “The Gut Makeover: 4 Weeks to Nourish Your Gut, Revolutionize Your Health and Lose Weight,” a popular book in the U.K., which was published here on May 2.
Here are excerpts from her recent interview with Newsmax Health.
Q: Why is our microbiome important?
A: Our microbiome communicates with our hormones to keep them balanced, it influences how aggressively we extract calories from food eaten, and it also communicates with our immune system and signals to our brain.
Q: What is a healthy microbiome like?
A: A healthy microbiome is dominated by beneficial bacteria and contains lots of different varieties of bacteria. An unhealthy microbiome is dominated by nasty types of bacteria, with the good ones left in the minority, and also has little variety of bacteria.
Q: What health problems does an unhealthy microbiome cause?
A: When the microbiome is out of balance, or deranged, we may experience digestive issues such as chronic bloating, wind, loose stools, constipation, or alternating between the two.
Q: How does a healthy microbiome help you?
A: A healthy microbiome is important to have a healthy microbiome keeping your weight, mood, and immune system in check. Early studies are also showing that eating foods to enhance the microbiome can lead to improvements in memory and mood, and autoimmune disorders to name a few
Q: How does the typical American (Western) unbalance the microbiome?
A: In the Western diet we often have a lot of grains (usually dominated by wheat) so there is very little variety of color, and the color beige dominates. It’s also often high in sugar, artificial sweeteners, and unhealthy trans fats. Artificial sweeteners can disrupt your microbiome too.
Q: Why is eating for your microbiome better than counting calories for weight loss?
A: The microbiome has been shown to influence on our hunger hormones, so a deranged microbiome could knock your hunger hormones out of balance, giving you cravings all the time.
Q: What is your diet for a healthy microbiome?
A: My diet features a low-grain Mediterranean diet in which you bombard your gut with diversity of plants, satiating proteins, and good oils such as extra virgin olive oil. After 2 weeks, you can add in foods that have healthy bacteria, like fermented milk kefir and smelly unpasteurized cheese Roquefort full of bacteria to plant in your gut, or sauerkraut or miso if you can’t tolerate dairy.
Here are Jeannette Hyde’s 6 tips for a healthy microbiome:
Bombard your body with diversity. It really can make food enjoyable having lots of different ones to look forward to. Get into the habit of trying to get as many different types of vegetables into each meal – chop lots of different fresh herbs on top, throw over a handful of pomegranate seeds, grate some carrot.
Drink fermented milk kefir every day like medicine. It’s a convenient and delicious way to get tens of billions of beneficial bacteria into your gut in one sitting. You can blend it in a blender with fruit and nuts or mix it with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of garlic for a delicious salad dressing.
Make cold potatoes your friend – potatoes have been demonized for too long! They can be very good for your microbiome and consequently your weight. When potatoes cool down they form resistant starch, a type of fiber which cannot be digested in the top half of the digestive tract, making you feel full, and survive all the way to your colon where you gut microbes dine out on them.
Enjoy flax seeds. Often fairly inexpensive, flax seeds, known also as linseeds, are super foods for your gut bacteria and produce a fuel to keep your gut lining in good repair. You can use them in a shake each morning. It’s simple good housekeeping for the microbiome.
Eat Slowly. Eating slowly is so important to good digestive health. If we wolf down our food, undigested food can reach the colon and lead to a deranged microbiome, bloating, hunger and more. It’s such a simple action, and costs no money, and can deliver big results.
Try a 12-hour overnight fast. This is an easy way to give your microbiome a good long stretch to regenerate, and can help rebalance your hunger hormones so you feel less hungry generally.