The health of the microbes living in our gut is crucial to our health and well-being. The various areas of the body are populated with their own specific communities of microorganisms (microbiome). Two types of foods that influence human gut flora are:
- Prebiotics - foods that are digested by bacteria in the colon, such as Resistant Starch and Dietary Fiber
- Probiotics - foods that contain beneficial bacteria that are intended to improve the glut flora.
The effect of consuming probiotics is inconclusive about populating the gut. While the specific effects of the microbiome are not well known, having a healthy and diverse microbiome is desirable. Junk foods (highly processed, loaded with empty calories) should be avoided and eating foods with a high proportion of prebioitics will help keep the gut microbiome well nourished. Even though science writer Ed Jong is an expert in microbiomes and is familiar with probiotics, he eats yogurt because he likes the flavour and not because he expects any improvement in his own microbiome. Dr Paul Mason suggests that high amounts of dietary fiber are not necessarily conducive to weight loss or gut health.
The consumption of antibiotics (both therapeutic and dietary) should be done with care. Indiscriminate antibiotic use can be potentially be considered as "carpet bombing" the gut's microbiota and wiping out a large populations of both beneficial and harmful bacteria.
- Is probiotic yogurt effective? | CBC Marketplace
- Food for thought: How your belly controls your brain | Ruairi Robertson | TEDxFulbrightSantaMonica
- Follow Your Gut: Microbiomes and Aging with Rob Knight - Research on Aging
- The Nature Of Things - It Takes Guts
- Debunking diet secrets and weight loss: The Answer Might be in Your Gut
- The Microbes Within Us | Ed Yong
- Dr. Paul Mason - 'From fibre to the microbiome: low carb gut health'
Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins and people can have a sensitivity to them that ranges from not at all to very. Lectins have been implicated in a variety of health issues including autoimmune diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Type 1 Diabetes. Lectins can be factor in obesity due to their ability to bind to Leptin (a hunger-regulating hormone) and to stimulate insulin receptors in fat tissue. Lectin-rich foods (eg tomatoes, can stimulate histamine production in the stomach, thereby exacerbating acid-reflux (heartburn). Maybe the roasted peanuts (high-fat, low GI) that I like as a snack may not be an ideal diabetic snack.
- Dr. Paul Mason - 'How lectins impact your health - from obesity to autoimmune disease'
- Are Lectins Bad for You? (+ How to Avoid Them) • Dr Paul Mason
- Dr: Gundry - Lectins & Beyond: How Eating Out-of-Season Makes You Fat
Related to gut health is the notion to purge toxins from the body with a "cleanse". No-one that recommends a particular kind of cleanse ever states what toxins the cleanse will be removing nor are there any clinical studies to back up the recommendation. The body's natural toxin cleansing organ is the liver and it performs this task extremely well. Eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods minimizes the ingestion of toxins.
- Detox diets: Testing Dr. Oz's detox cleanse (CBC Marketplace)
- Why "Detox Diets" And "Cleanses" Are B.S