Note: this edition of “Gut Health 101” is part 7 of an 8-part series on the microbiome.
For many of us when we hear the term “gut health” we simply think about digestion. Thankfully, gut health is much more than just breaking down the food and drink that you consume. This next section of my Gut Health 101 series on the microbiome will dive into a popular fad that is actually already being done on a daily basis: detoxing.
So far we’ve covered a general overview of the microbiome, the relationship between your diet, digestion, and your microbiome, what vitamins and hormones are made by your gut bacteria, how your gut bacteria protect you from infections, a short introduction to short chain fatty acids, and how your microbiome helps trains and influences your immune system. In this post we’ll learn about another function of your gut bacteria: how your gut microbiome helps detox your body..
Detox diets are a big thing these days. Short ones. Long ones. They’re all quick fixes or a jump start to a cleaner, healthier diet. Did you know that you don’t need to go on a special detox diet in order to detox your body? Your body naturally detoxes thanks to your kidneys, liver, and your gut. We’re learning more that your gut is also a part of your natural detox system – one that is influenced by your diet.
The bacteria that live inside of your gut are mostly responsible for the chemical breakdown of your food. Yes, your body does produce enzymes to aid in this process, but even our own chemical compounds are no match for some of the foods we eat. Thankfully our microbiome helps take care of what we can’t digest. It also helps take care of chemical compounds that are toxic to our bodies. However, if we haven’t been treating ourselves with kindness, choosing processed foods over whole foods, then that detoxing process becomes overloaded and inflammation builds in our bodies.
There’s a limited amount of detoxing our gut is able to handle due to the various levels of certain bacteria in our guts. When we eat a nutrient poor diet, we naturally select against certain groups of bacteria and we end up creating a less diverse ecosystem. Then when a toxic compound is ingested, we have a harder time neutralizing it due to our unhealthy microbiome. This is why having a diverse diet is essential not only to our immediate health, but especially to our long-term health. A diverse diet leads to a diverse microbiome. A diverse microbiome leads to a healthy body in more ways than one, as we have seen in this Gut Health 101 series.
The best “detox diet” is a diet based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and certain whole grains. This diversifies your gut bacteria – your microbiome – and keeps you safer from those toxic compounds that are often found in processed foods.
We have one more unit to go in our adventure into the microbiome. As we travel deeper, you will begin to realize just how influential our microbiome really is to our overall health. My hope is you begin to question what you do on a daily basis and start adjusting your habits in ways that will support and diversify your microbiome.