The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated in the year 2000 that as much as 95 percent of the world’s oceans and 99 percent of the ocean floor are unexplored. Although scientists and doctors know a lot of human body, still human body is also full of many unknowns.
In recent decades scientists have made startling discovery about human gut. They discovered that there are huge number of micro organisms(microbiota) in the gut. In fact scientists estimate that there may be as many as 100 trillion microbiota in the gut especially your large intestine (the colon).
The first effective point where the food we take from our environment meets our body is the gut. The gut bacteria is treated with the food we take in the intestine. As scientists look for explanations for the roots of chronic disease as well as the connections between nutrition and health, the answer may be in your gut — and what you feed it.
The Connection Between Microbiota and Inflammation
You may be wondering how the microbiota affects our health. The fact is these micro organism can be both our friend and enemy. If the gut is full of friendly bacteria we enjoy good health. When the good bacteria population decreases we fall sick and inflammation increases.
One reason that the state of your intestinal ecosystem has a profound effect on your health is that one layer of cells is all that separates your immune system from the contents of your gut, and inflammation is our immune system’s main weapon against foreign invaders.
A healthy, balanced gut microbiota promotes a strong immune system and lower levels of chronic inflammation. An unhealthy microbiota has been linked to obesity, asthma, allergies and autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseaseand rheumatoid arthritis. Increasingly, chronic inflammation is also thought to be a root cause of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.
How to Feed Your Microbiota
Everything we eat comes into contact with our microbiota in the gut. A diet high in refined, heavily processed foods will send our microbiota out of balance. Our body finds it difficult to remove highly processed foods from the gut. Due to this they can become stale and harm the bacteria.
The relationship between food and the microbiota is a two-way street: The food we eat affects the composition of our microbiota, and the composition of our microbiota affects how we digest and absorb our food.
The connection between what we eat and the health of our microbiome is complex, but a plant-based diet with lots of fiber and regular consumption of fermented foods nourishes and stimulates beneficial bacteria, which over time can shift the balance of your microbiota in a healthier direction.
Why You Should Consider Fiber as Your Friend
Your microbiota adapts to its environment, and if that environment doesn’t provide the fiber it needs, your microbes will instead dine on the thin layer of mucus that protects your intestinal lining, potentially leading to a “leaky gut” and all number of health problems.
Gut microbiota loves to feed on dietary fiber. Dietary fiber cannot be digested by our body and they are passed on to the gut. The dietary fiber then becomes the food for the microbiota which can digest them. During the process of fermentation microbiota causes the fermentation of the fiber. Diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and pulses (beans and lentils) are full of dietary fiber.
Since dietary fiber helps the microbiota to grow they are called prebiotic. These foods are rich in “prebiotic” fiber, or dietary fiber that escapes digestion in the small intestine but is fermented by the types of bacteria you want to have hanging around in your colon.
Although many plant foods contain fermentable, prebiotic fiber, these are some of the richest sources: artichokes, asparagus, bananas, plantains, barley, rye, wheat, alliums (garlic, leeks, onion), brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), jicama, lentils, chickpeas, red beans and soy products.
If you aren’t eating a lot of fiber-rich foods, increase your intake slowly. Some prebiotic fibers can cause flatulence if you eat too much, too soon. In case you want to know how to avoid flatulence during read this article here. They can also provoke symptoms in some people who have irritable bowel syndrome.
Good food for your microbiota also comes from resistant starch, which is found in whole grains as well as in cooked and cooled pasta, rice and potatoes. Some people find that it’s easier to boost intake of resistant starch than fiber.
Seeding the Microbial Garden
Properly fermented foods are teeming with beneficial, health-promoting microbes, or probiotics. When you eat these foods regularly, they may help maintain or improve the population of good microbes in your gut. Eat probiotics in the form of fermented dairy products such as unsweetened yogurt and kefir (fermented milk), fermented soy foods such as tempeh and miso, or fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi. Look for “live food” or “contains live cultures” on these products.
Using Right Fats to Encourage Diversity
If you eat diet which contain unhealthy fats specially the fried foods they are are harmful to microbiota diversity. So you should opt for plant-based sources of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. You can also take ghee and fats from wild animals and fish. Another way to reduce bad saturated fat is to include more plant-based meals in your week days.
How To Fuel Your Fermentation Factory
Eating food rich in prebiotic fiber along with fermented foods promotes the growth of bacteria that break down plant starches and fibers into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Some SCFAs may protect against inflammation and cancer, while others help us absorb essential minerals from our food, including calcium, magnesium and iron.
Individuals who consistently eat plant-based diets, such as vegan, vegetarian or Mediterranean diets, tend to have higher levels of SCFAs. This suggests that the amount of fermentable fiber matters more than the diet itself. Because not all fiber is the same, when you eat a variety of whole plant foods you nourish the microbes that can break down that fiber and encourage a more diverse and robust gut ecosystem overall.