I have delayed publishing this post in light of the recent heart-breaking events in America. I am determined to read, learn and teach my boys what it truly means to be actively anti-racist.
We must stand by the words of Martin Luther King Jr.
Taking care of our Gut Microbes, so they can take care of us.
Where we used to be.
The Hadza tribe of Tanzania is one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes on earth. Studying the lifestyle and diet of the Hadza has gifted us with rare glimpses into our past.
What is so interesting about this tribe is the health of their Gut Microbiome and the amount of Fibre they consume. The tribe survives on meat from hunted wild animals, honey, berries and plant tubers.
“It is thought the Hadza eat around 100-150g of fibre a day”Dr Erica Sonnenburg, Author of Gut Reactions
Where we are now.
We currently only eat around 10-15g of fibre daily, falling way short of the recommended government guidelines of 30g.
Could this lack of dietary fibre be the cause of the increased diseases we are now seeing in the West?
The Gut Microbiota of adults and children living in the West has been compared to those living in rural villages and farms in Burkina Faso, Bangladesh and Tanzania. Those in the West had a far lower concentration of gut healing microbes. It is a worrying fact that those of us in the West are losing key health-promoting diverse species of gut microbes.
In an ecosystem like the gut, diversity can be a buffer against [whole body] system collapse”Dr. Sonnenburg
HOW CAN WE FEED OUR MICROBIOME & SUPPORT OUR IMMUNITY?
“Eating a highly nutritious, well-balanced diet, getting adequate exercise and having a robust social network, have all shown to improve our microbiome and our health as we age.”
What does it mean to eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet?
- A NUTRITIOUS diet incorporates a variety of plant-based foods in every meal. Think 80:20. Finding ways to BOOST the fibre content in your daily diet with vegetables, fruit, pulses and beans is the foundation for a healthy immune-supporting diet.
- A WELL-BALANCED diet includes nuts (up to a palmful a day), seeds, whole grains, sufficient protein and good fats such as olive oil. Following a well-rounded Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce inflammation and boost gut health.
“Counting colours rather than calories may be a more effective way to engage long-term lifestyle change”DR DEANNA MINICH
EATING FROM THE RAINBOW TO SUPPORT YOUR IMMUNITY & MICROBIOME.
2 KEY FACTORS to look out for when planning meals, making shopping lists and food shopping:
COLOUR & DIVERSITY
Aim to eat fruits and vegetables of as many different colours of the rainbow as you can.
TIPS ON HOW TO START TODAY.
EATING MORE VEGETABLES:
- Vegetables can be eaten in so many different ways:
- raw as vegetable sticks/crudités
- grated into curries or sliced in salads
- steamed or grilled at the same time as cooking your main meals
- roasted or stir-fried and then added into the main dish
- Frozen vegetables and fruit are just as nutritious as fresh.
- They are often cheaper and more accessible.
- You can buy prepped frozen vegetables such as sliced mushrooms and peppers to throw into stir fries for quick meals.
- Tinned fruit, beans and pulses are nutritious and ready to eat- just add to any mains or salad.
- Try fruit infused water with slices of lemon or cucumber.
- Blending your vegetables into a smoothie is a good way to super boost your fibre intake.
TIPS TO POWER PACK YOUR PLATE
- Can you add a base of salad greens to each meal?
- NUTRITION TIP: lemon juice (fresh or bottled), salt and olive oil whisked together or shaken in a jar makes a simple and easy dressing for any greens or vegetables.
- Can you add a side of beans to accompany your main to your salad?
- NUTRITION TIP: Beans add an instant gut friendly fibre and protein boost, helping you feel fuller for longer.
POWER PACK YOUR BAKING
- Making brownies or cakes ?
- Why not try adding vegetables or beans to your bakes- this super boosts the fibre and nutrient density of the bake without compromising on the flavour. Here’s a recipe for beetroot brownies by BBC Goodfood.
- Try these black bean brownies by Helmsley & Helmsley.
- Try these Lemon Courgette cakes by BBC Goodfood.
- You can’t taste the beans or the extra vegetables and the result is super gut friendly, nutrient dense and tasty too. Click on the links above for some recipe ideas.
POWER PACK YOUR SNACKS
- Try homemade popcorn as a crunchy snack. 100g of popcorn has 14.5 g of fibre!
- Take 5 minutes in the morning to prepare a cup of crunchy veg sticks as a go-to for those moments when you need some crunch to tide you over til lunch or for that mid afternoon snack attack.
- Whip up some hummus using any tinned beans, garlic and olive oil to use as a dip for the vegetable batons.
- Try adding cooked beetroot, sweet potato or chargrilled pepper to the hummus to add gorgeous colour and hint of sweetness.
PROBIOTICS FOR YOUR GUT
Try to eat one type of fermented food a day, to support your gut microbes if you can and only if it suits your digestion.
- Eating live yogurt is an easy go-to for gut-friendly food.
- NUTRITION TIP: Choose greek live yogurt for extra protein.
- Kefir and Kombucha are good sources of gut happy bugs. They can both be made at home and bought in supermarkets now.
- Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi can be easily made at home and included in your next supermarket shop.
What will you try today?
GETTING ADEQUATE EXERCISE
Regular exercise works the heart, reduces age-related decline and has been associated with reduced inflammation and better immunity.
Exercise has a HUGELY positive effect on the microbiome.
Finding daily ways to MOVE.
- Aim for 5,000 steps if you can working up to 10,000 a day.
- Use your phone or a fitness tracker to measure your steps.
- Try and park further away from home, work or the supermarket, to empower you to walk those extra steps and carry your shopping or bags a little bit further.
- Move in the Kitchen. (Click here for a 5 minute kitchen workout by Dr Chatterjee)
- Put on some good music and have a little dance while you cook! Make your own playlist that is guaranteed to make you move while you cook or wash up.
- Try some gentle exercises in the kitchen while you wait for the kettle to boil.
- Here are some movements you could do; maybe try just one of these each time you go into the kitchen:
- 5 Squats
- 5 Hip circles (Think gentle belly dancing)
- 5 Arm circles -single then double
- 5 Toe Touches (Only as far as you can go)
- 5 Straight leg raises to the side or in front for each leg- Hold on to the counter top!
- 5 Gentle raised push ups using the counter top
- 5 Calf raises holding the counter top if you need to
- As you start these movements and begin to find ways of incorporating them into your everyday, try and add some challenges. Do FIVE more than you did the day before or add in another exercise type.
- Move while watching TV
- Try 15 minutes on a stationary bike whilst watching your favourite film/ series. Increase this each day by 10 minutes.
- Try a short resistance band workout in the evening while watching the box- click here for a great place to start from the British Heart Foundation.
- Whilst working at your desk at home try incorporating some movement – Click here for some great gentle yoga stretches from my lovely friend the “therapeutic yogi“.
- Study/ Work to music and gently wiggle or sway to the beats.
These are all types of movement that you can incorporate into your everyday in a fun and easy way.
You will burn more calories, benefit your gut microbiome AND you will be boosting your immunity.
What will you try today?
CARING FOR YOUR GUT MICROBIOME AND SUPPORTING YOUR IMMUNITY.
It is a sobering thought that the rate of decline of our microbiota can be a direct indicator of the rate of decline of our general health and onset of disease.
What can YOU do to look after YOUR bugs and keep your microbiome youthful?
Pick one thing you can work into your everyday from the summary below.
As this becomes a happy habit try adding in another one.
- Nourish your BUGS.
- Increase your fruit and vegetables by 1 more at each meal.
- Shopping for your BUGS.
- Look at your meals and how you can add different colours of fruit and vegetables to your week ahead.
- Plan ahead and add colourful salads and snacks and sides to your meals.
- Add 1 portion of beans, peas or lentils to each day.
- Moving for your BUGS.
- Add one different type of movement into your day today. Perhaps try out a movement while your kettle is boiling.
- Connecting for your BUGS.
- During life under COVID-19, it is difficult to meet up with friends and extended family but maintaining a regular social connection is still important for your wellbeing.
- Pick up the telephone and reconnect with an old friend or a family member. Perhaps even just to check in and say hello. Your voice may be the first they have heard that week or day.
As you start to ADD to your everyday, look at these checklists to see what you can work on tomorrow AND add in to your week ahead.
In PART 1 We learned about the existence and magic of our MICROBIOTA- the trillions of gut microbes we host in and on our bodies.
Here in PART 2 We have discussed many ways that you can boost the health of your gut microbiota NOW and in turn support your immune health.
I hope this has inspired you to start today.
Start building and supporting your health now and get ready for the uncertainties that our winter season may bring.
Welcome to your GUT MICROBIOTA. I hope you will both be very happy together.