The new year can seem like a good time for a healthy reset, especially with the feasting and jollity of the holiday season behind us. Be honest – haven’t you thought about ways to offset the damage and get back on the road to a lighter more streamlined start to 2024?
But what if we can best influence our health (and weight) by encouraging a diverse gut microbiome?
The intricacy of the gut microbiome is a relatively recent discovery, and 20 - 30 years on everyone’s talking about gut heath. We know now that the trillions of bacteria living inside us play a complex and vital role in regulating our wellbeing, influencing everything from our immune system to our mental health.
And a healthy gut will generally lead to a healthy weight. Dr Leke Asong, an NHS GP and gut health expert says, ‘Some bacteria are shown to have anti-obesity properties. The gut also produces vitamins and hormones that aid in maintaining a healthy weight. And an imbalanced gut produces less of the serotonin hormone, which can lead to sugar cravings to ‘fill the void.’
Dr James Kinross is a surgeon at Imperial College, London and the author of Dark Matter: The New Science of the Microbiome. In it he details how our modern lifestyles and diets have injured our guts. Processed food, stress and antibiotics have killed off healthy bacteria and encouraged the growth of toxic ones, leading to an imbalance and, ultimately, inflammation associated with chronic diseases and illness.
‘I describe this like an internal climate crisis – we’re losing the biodiversity of our internal ecosystem’, says Kinross. ‘Antibiotics have profoundly altered our microbiome in a very short period of time, but 80% of antibiotics are used in farming practices, so it’s also about the industrialisation of our diet.’
Our gut microbiomes need help – they need a bigger variety of microbes!
The fact that the food we eat is less nutrient-dense is a key factor, but so is urbanisation and pollution. Living in cities divorces us from close connection with the biodiversity of nature; and 99% of us breathe air that exceeds WHO air quality limits and also damages our internal ecosystems.
Luckily we can focus on gut health for the best diet for 2024. Here’s how:
- Ditch the ultra-processed foods. Encourage a diverse gut by eating a diverse mixture of plants, including fermented foods. Dr Megan Rossi, founder of The Gut Health Clinic and a research fellow at King’s College London says, ‘the more diverse your gut microbiome, the greater the breadth of skills it possesses, and this increases your resilience to infection.’
- Eat 30g of fibre each day. A study in The Lancet found that adding just 8g of fibre to participants’ daily diets led to reductions in the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and death from all causes.
- Socialise and stay connected with others; exercise with others. People with big social networks have a more diverse microbiome, and exercise improves digestion so why not combine when you can?
- Manage stress. Mental anxiety affects the gut through the gut/brain axis and is a root cause of many inflammation issues. Meditation, socialising, and time in nature are all effective; find something that works for you.
Finally, we are also here to support the diversity of your microbiome, so take a spoonful of your favourite microbz probiotic every day.
Delivering a variety of beneficial microbes rebalances the gut so you naturally maintain a healthy weight and lessen sugar cravings. Every dose contains billions of microbes harvested from nature, and you cannot get more diverse than nature herself.