The Gut as An Ecosystem

gut

We have frequently heard or engaged in the good vs bad bacteria conversation.  We were advised on what to do and what not to. Numerous researches have been done and continues to be done to provide accurate information on the same.  The results of the research were that as humans, we have trillions of bacteria within the body that are beneficial.

The human microbiome is the aggregate of all microorganisms residing on and in the body.  The gut specifically is one of the most densely populated ecosystems that is dominated by bacteria regardless of the other 2 domains of life namely archaea and eukarya.  The distal gut is recorded as being densely populated with bacteria.  Microbial colonization onsets at birth and progresses towards adulthood. 

The microbes’ genetic information interacts with our genetic information. This translates to the gut microbiome influencing at least every process in our body as well as the metabolic phenotypes.  Therefore, we cannot do away with the gut microbiome.  They aid in digesting dietary fiber which we are unable to digest, synthesizing essential vitamins such as Vitamin K, and absorption of dietary minerals like Magnesium, Calcium, and Iron. Besides, they play a role in promoting good cholesterol levels, synthesizing enzymes, regulating blood sugar, stimulating the immune system, metabolism, and maintaining mental health. 

An increased population and diversity of the gut microbiome are hallmarks of gut health.  However, several factors affect the development and alteration of the microbiome.  These include:

  1. Birthing and infant feeding method.  Vaginal birth ensures the infant is colonized by the mother’s gut and vaginal microbiota first unlike the caesarean method.  Breastfeeding increases the microbiome and the transition to solid foods rich in fiber and protein increases the microbial diversity
  2. Dietary habits and cooking methods
  3. Medication such as the overuse of antibiotics
  4. Environment and lifestyle
  5. Age.  As we advance in age, there is a reduction in biodiversity and an increased risk of potentially harmful bacteria
  6. Genetics
  7. Comorbid diseases
  8. Stress and poor sleeping patterns

When the mentioned factors are not put into consideration, microbiome dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) takes place.  The effects of this imbalance have been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, metabolic disease, and obesity.  Therefore, we ought to improve our gut microbiome through:

  1. Diversifying the range of foods
  2. Consuming pre-biotics and fermented foods
  3. Limiting the use of artificial sweeteners
  4. Practicing breastfeeding
  5. Increasing intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
  6. Consuming a plant-based diet.  The Mediterranean diet is preferred instead of the Ketogenic diet. The Ketogenic diet restricts plant-based carbohydrates which affect bacterial diversity because fiber is required
  7. Intermittent fasting and fasting-mimicking diets have proven in improving gut barrier function, increasing microbial diversity and enhancing antioxidative microbial pathways

One way of going about fermented foods is by enjoying a cup of fermented porridge made with Winnie’s Pure Health porridge flours.  Follow the below recipe;

Ingredients

  • 65 g Winnie’s Pure Health Ugali Afya
  • 65 g Winnie’s Pure Health Wimbi Afya
  • 200 ml warm water + 500 ml water
  • Winnie’s Pure Health Honey to taste

Method

  1. Mix well the flours with warm water.  Cover and leave to rest at room temperature for at least 3 days.  This will ferment the mixture
  2. Bring some water to boil, add the mixture, and lower the heat.  Cook for 10-15 minutes while continually stirring
  3. Add some honey to taste then top with your favourite fruits; serve

Every relationship requires a proper environment to thrive and the relationship we have with our gut microbiome is not left behind.  Having in mind all that we stand to gain, we ought to be keen on meeting the needs of our gut bacteria because a healthy gut translates to a healthier you!

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