Cultivating a positive relationship with the trillions of microbes living in your gut is the key to good health. Here’s how to love your gut bugs better…
The key to throwing a successful dinner party is creating a welcoming environment for your guests, and the same goes for becoming a better ‘host’ to our gut bugs.
Increasingly, research is showing that our relationship with our microbiome – that is, the trillions of microbes that reside in our digestive tract – may be the most important relationship we’ll ever have.
It might come as a surprise to many of us that these microbes actually control much of our health and wellbeing. They digest our food, assist in the absorption of nutrients and manufacture some vitamins, essential amino acids and bioactive molecules. They also help regulate many hormones that impact our mood, brain function, energy levels, immunity, metabolism and more.
We could even go so far as to say that our microbiome is our ‘other half’ – it develops with us from the day we’re born and it’s in constant communication with our brain. For this reason, we need to build a strong and harmonious relationship with our resident microbial cells. In essence, we need to learn how to be a good host for the many microorganisms that call us home – because when these gut microbes are happy and thriving, chances are, we’ll enjoy good health, vitality and glowing skin too!
SO, HOW DO YOU BECOME A BETTER ‘HOST’?
In The Beauty Chef Gut Guide, I shared some of my favourite gut-nourishing recipes and delved a little deeper into our relationship with our microbiome. While our relationship with our microbiome is always evolving, being a good host involves nourishing and nurturing your gut bugs with wholesome food and healthy lifestyle choices. Getting enough sleep, avoiding toxins in your environment and reducing stress are all important – as research shows that if you’re stressed, then it’s likely your microbiome is too. Arguably, the simplest and most effective way to be a good host is to eat with your microbiome in mind...
EAT TO SHARE.
A philosophy that we explore in the Gut Guide is the idea of ‘eating to share’. In this instance, I’m not talking about sharing with your partner or best friend (although, you should do that too!) but rather, ensuring that you eat in such a way that both you (the host) and your microbes are satisfied. This essentially means eating a diverse, nutrient balanced diet with lots of fibre rich whole foods. Fibre is food for your microbes - they ferment in the large intestine and make health giving compounds called short chain fatty acids that support gut health, metabolic health, brain health and immune health. Conversely, a diet that’s dominated by processed, refined foods will fail to provide enough food for the beneficial bugs in your colon. As a general rule, always aim to have more plants on your plate than meat – your gut bugs will love you for it!
REST & DIGEST.
Being a good host also means giving yourself and microbiome enough time and space to digest after a meal. As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this is certainly true when it comes to your microbes and their next meal! By fasting for at least 8 hours (which many of us do naturally when we sleep) you’ll give your gut bugs the time they need to enjoy the fibrous foods you’ve eaten and also give your digestive system a well-deserved break.
Like all healthy relationships, it’s important to communicate! While that might sound a little strange, I encourage you to check in with your body regularly. How do you feel after eating a certain food? What are your toilet habits like? Do you experience bloating immediately after dinner? Our gut microbes are constantly communicating with us, and as their host, it’s our job to listen!
If you’d like to learn more about the concept of being a good host, pick up a copy of The Beauty Chef Gut Guide! It contains plenty of tips and tricks on how to care for the incredible ecosystem that lives inside of you, as well as a four stage gut-healing protocol that guides you through the process of healing, weeding, seeding and feeding your gut.