Immune or Metabolic Issues?

by | | Eat for a Healthy Gut

If you are feeling low in energy or mood, this is a good time to consider the health of your gut.  Fortify your immune system and avoid metabolic issues like winter weight gain by optimizing your microbiome.  Did you know that regular movement also helps to modulate the diversity of your gut?

Microbiome Magic

Our microbiome is made up of trillions of cells.  This ecosystem is the control center for many biological processes. A dysbiotic gut is  linked to several chronic diseases. The good news is that diet and lifestyle change can positively modulate the microbiome quickly. Promoting diversity reduces the impact of external stressors while increasing your body’s resiliency overall.


What Causes Gut Dysbiosis?

  • Antibiotics or other medications: the effects of these may show up years later
  • Extreme dietary changes: a moderate approach to nutrition is healthy for both the body and the mind
  • Stress: when we are stressed we cannot digest
  • Infections: the most common ones I see in clinic are h.pylori, d.fragilis and yeast overgrowth but there are others

Resolve Metabolic Issues

There’s plenty that we can do to become more resilient.  The food we eat can modulate the gut microbiota positively and help resolve metabolic issues..  Specific micronutrients like vitamin A, C and E along with a balance of healthy fats are important.   Pro and prebiotics rich foods beneficially support as well.  There are three categories of foods that are to consider increasing now:


1.  Microbiota Accessible Carbohydrates

These carbs are used for gut fermentation and are derived mainly from dietary fiber.  These dictate the functionality and metabolic output, by producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).  Acetate, butyrate, and propionate all play a key role in health and disease.  These SCFA’s are found in lower concentrations where a Western diet is consumed versus an ancestral diet.

In terms of metabolic health, one study showed that a diet higher fiber lowered obesity in just six weeks while increasing immunity.  Although a lower carb diet can help reduce the overgrowth or dysbiosis, feeding the good bacteria with MAC’s prevents metabolic issues in the long run.  The increased diversity can help immune issues.


2. Intake of plant foods

Aim for eating around thirty types of plants each week.  This increases SCFA’s and microbiota diversity while decreasing metabolic issues.  Individuals who consume 30+ types of plants had a significantly reduced abundance of antibiotic resistant genes compared to those who consume 10 or fewer.  Organic vegetables exhibit larger microbial biodiversity than conventionally grown vegetables.


3. Polyphenols

Polyphenols have anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic effects. Flavonoids, phenolic acids, and lignans from fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, and wine are all worth noting.  They have prebiotic-like activities and can modulate the microbiota by inhibiting pathogenic organisms such as H. pylori and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus.

Consume polyphenol-rich foods such as cocoa, red wine, green tea, and vegetables & fruits.  Consumption of cocoa-derived polyphenols (500g/day) for 4 weeks significantly increased the fecal abundance of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus compared to a low polyphenol diet (23mg/day).


Final Thought:  Eat Chocolate

The microbiome can shift into an altered state quite easily with processed foods, lack of movement and high stress.  When this altered state becomes prolonged the microbiome is said to be in a state of “dysbiosis”.  We can move the needle in the direction of health by taking simple steps every day like enjoying a bit of chocolate along with an abundance of colourful plant foods and teas.


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