We, humans, are colonized by at least as many microorganisms as our body cells. A lot of scientists even say they are more, like twice or even ten times more. We inherimicrobiomet some of these from our mothers but during our life this alien population changes.
Like in a forest, if there’s draught or too much rain, some of the members of this colony, our microbiome, might disappear or change. No to mention if some of the inhabitants are killed or added or get sick, due to chemicals in the air or water, change in nutrients or attacks by their enemies.
I mean, whatever we eat, breathe, drink, whatever we do affects not only our body but also this colony.
And, surprise, changes in our microbiome affects our body!
Members of the microbiome that are friends to our health might disappear, being replaced by bad, bad microorganisms, some of them suspected of making us obese.
For decades scientists have been demonstrating that our microbiome is involved in our body processes. It seems our gut bacteria even communicate with our brain, like demanding more food or less.
It is such a complicated picture! There are so many unknown facts, such a diversity of microorganisms and relations inside the microbiome and with our body and environment, that after decades of research, we still don’t know exactly what microbiome particularities differentiate lean people from obese.
What is known for sure so far is not too much:
– There is a difference between the microbiome of the obese people and that of the lean people. When obese people are colonized with the gut flora from lean people, under certain conditions, they can lose weight dramatically. It seems that the gut flora of obese people has less Bacteroidetes than Firmicutes (what a lovely name) and is thought that these Bacteroidetes are more efficient at extracting energy from food. Bit of controversy in studies over the healthy ratio and other details, though.
– Microbiome can be changed by diet and lifestyle but there’s no silver bullet in this. Don’t expect that if you start from tomorrow eating yogurt and fiber, you’ll get slim in no time. There’s no one-fit-for-all diet.
First of all, it depends on your microbiome, your genes, your lifestyle, your environment, your health, your medication and so many other known or unknown factors.
Bacteroides are not the only cause for obesity.
Besides, scientists don’t know for sure which bacteria is involved, what is the right percentage between the various bacteria groups in our guts, which has to be killed, which has to be brought in and how.
Keep in mind also that nutrition science is in its infancy.
Meanwhile it seems a sensible and a fine idea to eat healthy, that is lots of veggies, some fruits, dairy, whole wheat bread, lean meats, less sugar, no junk food a.s.o., you should know the do’s and don’ts by now. Eat good food but don’t eat too much, calories do count.
Also moving a lot in fresh air, doing some weight lifting cannot but help maintain your guts health.
You might want to help your microbiome by eating probiotics to enrich your microorganisms colonies, the lovely Firmicutes. Foods like yogurt or kefir (but not that white pasteurized stuff from the supermarket shelves), fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickles, fermented cheese a.s.o .
You might also want to eat some prebiotics (the stuff that your microbiome need to stay alive), foods that include dietary fibers like trans-galactooligosaccharide, inulin, resistant starch, pectin, beta-glucans, and xylooligosaccharides.
Iai and uau, complicated, isn’t it?
Translating these fancy scientific words in every day foods names, include in your menus: bananas, raw garlic and leek, cooked onions, raw wheat bran, whole wheat bread, beans, lentils, potatoes (boiled in skin and refrigerated over night; eaten cold or reheated), oatmeal, mushrooms, apples, carrots.
One more thought, related to our inherited microbiota.
We in Eastern Europe might have a different microbiota than let’s say that of the Chinese or Americans or French. Right?
This means, that whatever diet works for the French people, lots of cheese, red wine and so on, is not necessarily going to function for me.
Japanese may be lean but their all fish, white rice and algae diet might not suit my microbiota.
All those scientific American studies on thousands of people (Americans), their conclusions might be valid maybe only in USA.
Think about this when you try to jump in one wagon or other.
Meanwhile, take a closer look at your local traditions, especially those that have suited your microbiota for thousand of years or more.
Note to travelers. If you’re visiting Romania, try the local sauerkraut and salt pickles and that wonderful Summer salad with raw onions and fermented white cheese.