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Gut Microbes keep you healthy

June 22, 2016

Our gut microbes, a secret to being thin, happy and healthy?

Until recently it seemed that modern medicine had forgotten about our lower bowels and its living inhabitants, some 100 trillion microbes that live on high fibre food. We are just beginning to understand the importance of these tiny, single cell organisms, which play an essential role breaking down and processing food, producing chemicals that keep us healthy and fit.

We all possess a unique set of microbes, and they vastly outnumber our cells and genes. Our particular set of microbes is called our microbiome. Cutting edge research is beginning to understand how differences in microbiomes can keep us thin (yes, really!), avoid heart disease, reduce allergies and keep us free from anxiety and depression.

A Professor of Genetics, Tim Spector of Kings College in London, has been researching the impact different microbes have on twins and he has some stunning results.  Some of you may be interested in his book, The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat or to get a gist of his ideas go to

Whilst we are not at the stage yet where we can artificially change our bowel bugs to make us thinner, happier or healthier we can make big changes through diet. Tim Spector suggests the following tips to reboot your gut, and increase microbe diversity.

·  Avoid processed foods and those with too much sugar, sweetener or fruit juices

·  Feed your microbes by increasing the fibre content of your diet

·  Microbes thrive on celery, artichokes, leeks, onion and garlic. Feed them these especially after an illness or a course of antibiotics

·  Include lots of fresh foods, nuts, cheese, yoghurt and extra virgin olive oil in your diet

·  Fasting, even for only 16 hours, is beneficial and gives your microbes a holiday

·  Coffee and dark chocolate in moderation are good for your microbes

·  Avoid vitamin supplements – they can be harmful. Concentrate on eating real food and your microbes will do the rest

·  Your gut needs diversity and the avoidance of toxins (junk food)

It is also now possible to test your own gut microbes and to see how they change on different diets after only a few days. In the UK Professor Spector is involved with British Gut; a crowd funded project run by The Department of Twin Research at King’s College London in conjunction with The American Gut project. The aim is to uncover the microbial content within the guts of British individuals. This data will give information on how lifestyle choices and diet influence our microbiome and how we can alter it to reduce disease and other health related problems. Unfortunately, in NZ we cannot be part of Tim Spector’s project, however we can still map out our own microbiome. Special tests can be purchased through for those who are fascinated by the impact of their diet on their health.