Oh, is that comforting or scary? We just think it's pretty exciting - at least when it comes to the microbiome!
You may have heard the words microbiome or microbiota before. They describe the totality of all microorganisms that are in and on the skin, the mucous membranes and in the organs. Overall, humans have more bacterial than human cells on board! Of course, we are primarily interested in the microbiome of the intestine - also known as the intestinal flora, after all it's about food and nutrition for us.
Our human gut microbiome includes all microbial organisms in the gut, especially the large intestine, and it is now seen as an organ in its own right. What is fascinating is that every human being (and every other living being) has a unique, individual microbiome. This is mainly constituted in the first years of life. It is strongly influenced by environmental influences, such as nutrition, medication or hygienic conditions. But the more stable intestinal flora of adults is also influenced by external factors such as lifestyle (nutrition, exercise and stress) and illnesses. It also depends on genetic makeup and age.
AND WHY IS THE MICROBIOME SO IMPORTANT TO US?
On the one hand, it is responsible for the digestion and metabolism of our food. A "disrupted" microbiome, for example, can have serious consequences for the absorption of important nutrients. It also plays an important role in regulating inflammatory processes in the body. And last but not least, the microbiome is crucial for the fitness of our immune system, the majority of which is located in the intestine.
Our intestinal flora, the entirety of the different intestinal bacteria, has several functions. How well these can be fulfilled depends on which organisms are in our microbiome. There are good / useful and those that are rather detrimental to health. As a rule of thumb, one can say: the more diverse the intestinal microbiome is, i.e. the more different microbiotic organisms there are, the better it is for our immune system.
WHAT CAN I DO FOR A BIODIVERSE MICROBIOME?
The great thing is, you can do a lot for a good ecosystem in your gut! As mentioned before, our lifestyle plays an important role and our diet is a crucial part of our lifestyle. We can contribute a lot to a healthy microbiome through our diet.
On the one hand, we can eat foods that contain probiotic bacteria that arrive alive in our intestines and can support the microorganisms that are there - little helpers, so to speak. Although these probiotic bacteria cannot settle permanently in our intestinal flora, we can consume them regularly if we integrate them into our (daily) diet. According to the definition of the World Health Organization, probiotics are “live microorganisms which, when consumed in sufficient quantities, confer a health benefit on humans”. A natural source of probiotics can be fermented vegetables - as long as they have not been heated.
On the other hand, a diet with lots of dietary fiber and plant fibers supports the microbiome, as they contain prebiotics. Prebiotics are loosely formulated as fodder for the beneficial gut bacteria. These are also abundant in fermented vegetables.
JUST EAT IT!
So two good reasons to eat fermented vegetables regularly. The beauty of it is that it's super easy to do because you can just eat it with most meals without completely changing your diet. For example, get in the habit of eating a few spoonfuls with your soup, salad or bowl, just take a glass with you for your office lunch or put some cabbage on your bread or rolls. If you are looking for ideas, take a look at our recipes!
Read this: Ferment Worlds
If you are even more interested in the topic of intestinal health and the role of fermented foods in terms of our health, then be sure to drop by Miriam and Till from fermentwelten.de . As active researchers, the two are right in the middle of the action. Miriam and Till have been fermenting themselves for several years and share their knowledge about intestinal bacteria, intestinal health and fermentation in a very entertaining and informative way on their blog!
MORE INFO AT FERMENTWELTEN
Fermented foods are easy to incorporate into your daily diet. And that not only pleases the intestinal flora, but also tastes great!