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Microbiome diversity = long life

I'm regularly blown away by the growing body of evidence being released each week on how our microbiome (gut flora) affects our health. Now the researchers are saying there a direct link between and our microbiome diversity and longevity.

Our gut flora is highly regulated by what we eat. When we have an ongoing restricted diet, certain populations within our microbiome miss out on their favourite foods. In our 21st century standard diet we often don't eat enough fibre or we tend to eat the same types of fibre and this is one of the leading causes of reduced diversity.

By eating a wide variety of plant foods we can ensure the many hundreds of species that reside in our gut will get fed. The other major contributors to reduced diversity of our microbiome is stress, medications, inadequate exercise, artificial sweeteners and the over consumption of sugar, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine.

A reduced microbiome diversity has also been strongly linked with gut infections of harmful bacteria or the overgrowth of yeasts such as Candida. Common immune-related conditions such as Irritable Bowel Disease, allergies, Diabetes Type 1 and Multiple Sclerosis as well as metabolic conditions such as Obesity and Diabetes Type 2 are correlated with reduced microbiome diversity.

First steps to a healthy and diversely populated microbiome:

  • Eat at least 30 different plant foods each week then begin to increase to 50 - try counting how many different types of plant foods are in your kitchen right now! Our primate ancestors would eat over 350 different plant foods in their diet over the year! Amazing.

  • Include some fermented foods each week eg sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh.

  • Use herbal anti-biotics instead of the pharmaceutical type for colds and flu's this winter.

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