More than ten years ago, having begun to study the intestinal microflora, scientists started talking about researching a new organ in the human body. There are still many secrets in its effect on our body, but the accumulated facts are already enough to understand: microflora is involved not only in digestion. Immunity, mood, well-being, intelligence and even weight depend on it.
Another global discovery is that the microflora of modern humans is far from ideal. It would seem that we eat tasty and varied as never before. And at the same time, our gut bacteria are practically starving to death. How did it come about? Let’s tell you now.
Everything has changed
The first people obtained food exclusively by hunting and gathering. Ancient man’s diet consisted of sour, fibrous wild plants, lean wild meat, and fish. The situation changed about 12 thousand years ago. The birth of agriculture has radically transformed our diet.
Fruits and vegetables have changed: they are sweeter, with richer, less fibrous flesh. Domesticated animals receive special feed, including grain and animal products (milk). People cultivate grains: rice, wheat and others.
A feast for us, a hunger for intestinal bacteria. – A source
The Industrial Revolution has brought about unprecedented changes. Now food depends on mass production. The result is grocery stores chock-full of processed, sweetened, high-calorie foods that are devoid of dietary fiber and sanitized to extend shelf life. The new diet is completely at odds with what we have eaten throughout our evolutionary history.
To get an idea of a fully functioning microflora, let us turn to the last surviving Hadza hunter-gatherers in the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania. It was there that the most ancient remains of our ancestors who lived millions of years ago were found. In terms of diet and microflora composition, Hadza is closest to people of the pre-agricultural era.
Hadza feed on meat of animals they hunt, berries, fruits and seeds of baobab, honey and tubers – underground storage organs of plants. The tubers are so fibrous that the Hadza has to spit out the toughest fibers. According to scientists, members of the tribe consume from 100 to 150 grams of dietary fiber per day. By comparison, Americans typically eat 10 to 15 grams.
The composition of the Hadza microflora is much more diverse than that of Western humans.
If we imagine the microflora in the form of a jar of dragees, where different tastes are different types of bacteria, then the microflora of hunter-gatherers is a jar filled with an intricate mixture of many different colors and tastes, including very unusual ones. And in a jar with Western microflora, a more homogeneous and simple mixture.
Diversity ensures the vitality of the system as a whole. Imagine an ecosystem with a huge number of bird and insect species. If one of the insects disappears, the birds will still have a choice of “food”. However, if other species of insects also disappear, the birds will begin to starve, and as a result, their death will lead to the depletion of species within the ecosystem.
This is approximately what happens to our microflora. She quickly adapts to changes in diet. Adjusting to the Western lifestyle, the once abundant species, adapted to the ancient diet, disappeared. The poor Western microflora is typical for most of us, even those who consider themselves healthy.
Three factors working against your gut bacteria
– Factor number 1: the effect on the body of substances that destroy bacteria. This can be anything from chemical environmental pollutants to certain components in foods (eg sugar, gluten), in water (eg chlorine), and drugs such as antibiotics.
– Factor # 2: Lack of nutrients that support a variety of “good” bacteria and benefit harmful bacteria.
– Factor # 3: stress.
How to support microflora
We cannot avoid stress in modern life. Avoiding antibiotics and chlorinated water is also not always possible. Therefore, the simplest thing is to include in the diet foods that will feed the “good” bacteria, making the microflora more diverse. Here’s what to eat daily.
– Vegetables: greens and lettuce, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, kale, beetroot, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, artichoke, alfalfa, green beans, celery, collard greens, radishes, watercress, turnip, asparagus, garlic, leek, fennel, shallots, green onions, ginger, jicama, parsley, water chestnut.
More vegetables! – such a slogan could be proclaimed by your intestinal bacteria. – A source
– Vegetables with a low sugar content: avocado, bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, large pumpkin, pumpkin, eggplant, lemon, lime.
– Fermented foods: yoghurt, salted vegetables, kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented meats, fish and eggs.
– Healthy fats: extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, natural animal fat or butter, ghee, almond milk, avocados, coconuts, olives, nuts and nut butters, cheese (excluding moldy cheeses), seeds (flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds).
– Proteins: eggs, commercial fish (salmon, coalfish, sea bass, herring, trout, sardines), shellfish and crustaceans (shrimp, crabs, lobster, mussels, oysters), organic meat and poultry (beef, veal, lamb , liver, chicken, turkey, duck, ostrich), game.
– Herbs, seasonal fruits and vegetables, condiments: mustard, horseradish, gluten free, wheat, soy and sugar free sauces (say goodbye to ketchup).
Based on materials from the books “Healthy Intestine”, “Intestine and Brain”
Post cover – unsplash.com