Your doctor probably won’t tell you that the key to your health lies in your gut. What if you found out that chronic illness and nearly all other forms of sickness and disease were optional?
Our ancestors, even as recent as our great grandparents, didn’t deal with allergies, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, because their diet was an innate reflection of their environment. They ate mostly what they grew, which means they were more connected with what the Earth presented to them than we are today—food was local and seasonal, which helped them maintain balance internally.
The chronic diseases of today that were unheard of to them, all became a problem in the last 100 years and it’s because something inside of us called the, “microbiome,” is constantly destroyed by our lifestyles today.
The good news is: not only can we make changes to help our microbiome, but there’s some fascinating technology today can make sure we’re doing the right things daily for our specific body to insure we’re living our best life.
What is the microbiome?
The microbiome is essentially our internal ecosystem. It’s made up of all kinds of bacteria—good and bad—that help to regulate your immune system. “Microbiome” is defined as “the combined genetic material of the microorganisms in a particular environment.”
Our microbiome primarily resides in our digestive system. So, when you take antibiotics, it acts like a nuclear bomb inside of you. It kills everything, both the good and the bad bacteria, leaving you susceptible to further and potentially even more substantial illnesses.
According to Naveen Jain, the founder of Viome, a gut microbiome and wellness company, “When you kill the ecosystem, what happens? Suddenly, your body cannot digest things. You suddenly are sick. So every time you take antibiotics, you literally are destroying your body.”
The gut is your first brain; your actual brain is your second brain. Health starts in the gut and according to Jain and other experts who know the science behind our microbiome, illness is optional.
What if your health wasn’t a guessing game anymore? What if you could eat all the perfect foods for your body and maintain a diet that was specifically and uniquely yours? What if you could take just the right type and amount of vitamins and supplements for you, and not some one size fits all dosage from store?
Knowing and understanding your microbiome makeup can help you understand exactly what’s going on inside you, while helping you take preventative measures for diseases you’re unknowingly susceptible to, perhaps due to your genetics or past diet and environmental exposures.
The goal of microbiome companies is to help you to never become sick in the first place. With revolutionary testing, these companies can tell you exactly what you need for your body to perform optimally, so there’s no more guessing, no more yo-yo dieting, no more blanket approaches to your health.
Testing is generally done via an at-home kit, ideally performed yearly. Companies like Viome work with scientist, physicians and nutritionists, while using technology to provide you with a personalized plan for your diet, nutrition and supplements.
“When you kill the ecosystem, what happens? Suddenly, your body cannot digest things. You suddenly are sick. So every time you take antibiotics, you literally are destroying your body.”
Microbiome testing is an incredible privilege, although some companies may work with insurance to wave costs. However, even without taking these measures, you can start focusing today on eating a microbiome-conscious diet that your gut will thank you far sooner rather than later.
What the gut loves…
The key is simple—keep inflammation low by eating foods that support your immune system. So of course foods like your vegetables, especially the green leafy ones, fruits (particularly berries), wild caught fish, beans and legumes, and healthy fats, like coconut and extra virgin olive oil.
And if you’re eating meats, make sure to choose pasture raised or grass fed, and with eggs, select the cage free ones.
Another often forgotten-about food type that’s particularly good for your gut is probiotic foods. Fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir are good options for sneaking in good bacteria. Also, yogurt, sauerkraut, and cultured vegetables all have probiotic, gut-friendly properties. Just be mindful of added sugar and salt in these products, especially store bought yogurt.
You can also have that glass of red wine or that piece of chocolate too, as both have great anti-inflammatory properties.
Lastly, load up on things like tea, especially green teas, herbs and spice, like garlic, turmeric, rosemary, and ginger.
So, as you can see, the gut loves a wide variety of real food. But what does the gut hate? Well, it hates fake food. If it’s manmade or machine made, your digestive system will slowly—or not to slowly—take issue with it.
What the gut hates…
Sugar. This might be the most over used ingredient in processed food. Anything with added sugar—or one of its cousins, like high fructose corn syrup—well cause you lots of damage. Soda or most bottled juices and drinks, packaged bake goods, cereal, or just plan sugar that you dump into your drink at the coffee shop.
Other things that your gut really hates are refined carbs and processed grains. “Refined” is the opposite of whole grain. With refined foods, they actually go through the trouble (the process) of taking out the good, whole grain, and leaving you with essentially a mystery powder, with which they make junk food.
So again, those packaged baked goods, snacks, and cereals make this list too, but refined carbs also includes that white and even plain wheat bread product (including bagels, muffins and croissants). You want your bread to say 100% “whole grain” or “whole wheat.”
Sticking with the “refined” category, stay away from refined oils too, like canola, soybean, or corn—mostly the so-called “vegetable” oils. Don’t believe the old hype about butter. If you need a spread, get yourself some organic butter. It’s full of good fats.
Avoid pasteurized dairy and other conventional meat or egg product, and especially most farm raised fish. The process of pasteurization acts much like how antibiotics act inside humans—it kills the bad guys, yes, but it also kills the good guys, along with everything else. You’re left with an empty vessel to call food.
Last, but certainly not least, avoid trans fats and hydrogenated fats. If those words mean nothing to you, to make it easy to understand, just think of convenience foods, like fast food burgers and fries, microwavable meals, packaged/pre-cooked foods, and especially foods that are fried.
The key is simple—keep inflammation low by eating foods that support your immune system.
We’re used to thinking that Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer is something genetic that we can’t avoid no matter how hard we try. But that’s wrong. The problem is: we’ve just never had access to the information in our gut to know what we need on an individual basis to make our specific bodies function optimally.
For instance, something as healthy and as benign as tomatoes may be good for on person to eat often, but they may actually be detrimental to you. Having this information at our finger tips, which is what microbiome testing provides, would help you understand what your body needs on a individual level, and potentially add several more healthy, vibrant years onto your existence.
Doing our best by following a microbiome, anti-inflammatory approach to our diet, can save us a lot of trouble in the long run. Our gut sends us signals—gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc.—we just have to start taking notice of what’s giving it a reason to try and get our attention.