Feeding the gut microbiome, eat the rainbow!

Author Jessicarr Moorehouse

The human intestine is not only essential for food digestion and absorption, it is also home to the gut microbiome. Sometimes referred to as ‘friendly bacteria’, this is a colony of micro-organisms, which is initially acquired at birth and continues to flourish throughout life.

The diversity of the gut microbiome depends upon the food consumed on a daily basis. Diets diverse in colour, texture and taste contain a vast range of important chemicals and nutrients. This is significant as each type of gut microorganism requires a different group of chemicals in order to function and survive. A diverse gut microbiome promotes overall good health and there is growing evidence to suggest it enhances metabolism, hormone regulation and immunology1,2.

Unfortunately, the western diet can have a negative impact on the gut microbiome, due to its uniformity and therefore paucity of essential nutrients1. Compounding this is the use of medication such as antibiotics, especially in early life3.  Whether the gut microbiome can be nurtured by eating a varied, colourful ‘rainbow’ diet alone, or if supplemental probiotics (live micro-organisms) are required is an ongoing topic of debate4.

References

1)Statovci D, Aguilera M, MacSharry J and Melgar S (2017) The Impact  of Western Diet and Nutrients on the Microbiota and Immune Response at Mucosal Interfaces. Front. Immunol. 8:838

2)Clemente JC, Manasson J, Scher J. The role of the gut microbiome in systemic inflammatory disease. BMJ 2018;360:j5145

3)Iizumi T, Battaglia T, Ruiz V. Gut Microbiome and Antibiotics. Arch Med Res. 2017 Dec 5. pii

4)Floch MH. The Role of Prebiotics and Probiotics in Gastrointestinal Disease. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2018 Mar;47(1):179-191