The relationship between well-being and gut-flora
We at Healthy Family are curious about the relationship between well-being and gut-flora. Is the talk about anti-inflammatory diet just a fad, as many trends are, or is there a kernel of truth in how gut-flora can affect our health? To answer this we invited science journalist Henrik Ennart, co-writer of the book Happy Food, who is well versed on the subject.
How come gut-flora is so relevant right now?
“There will always be people hyping up the importance of gut-flora, but the most important thing about it is that it does affect how the body feels. Everything’s connected. The science shows that gut-flora is the key in understanding the body’s cohesiveness. Earlier one thought it was the genes that would be the great health breakthrough, but the answer is, off course, much more complex than that.” Says Henrik.
What does it take to acquire good gut-flora?
“To de-dramatize the notion about diet. To get a good ecosystem it’s important to eat as varied as possible, and to eat the right thing, and you can’t forget to enjoy the meals. It’s also important not to think in black and white. Its okay to have a cinnamon bun every once in a while, but perhaps not always, and it’s good to eat a lot of greens. Think that plus is plus, that is to say that all the good choices are plus and if there’s the occasional negative then the world won’t collapse.
How do you know what diet is best for you?
“Colourful and spicy food is a good mark. It’s important to have a lot of different colours on the plate. The more colours you eat the more you cover all those good nutrients that the body needs. One tip is to stock your fridge with; legumes, onion plants, whole grains, cross-flowering plants such as different kinds of cabbage, broccoli, kale, and then some leafy vegetables. That covers your fibres well enough. Then you can top that off with fruit, berries, seeds, nuts, and even mushrooms. Parallel to that one can think to add as many colours as possible plus to spice thoroughly (preferably with herbs) but then the purpose is to add other kinds of bioactive nutrients than fibre.
Give a tip on a good and healthy vegetable!
“Then I’ll probably choose beans. They contain an incredible amount of fibre, and that’s good for the intestine. Something I also think works well for kids are chicken-peas, especially if you cook them with a dash of oil in a frying pan. Super tasty!!!”
Could our intestinal health affect our psyche?
“Absolutely, judging by the research of today the validity is unambiguous. Diet and mental health are correlated. That is not to say that bad gut-flora is the sole contributor to mental illness, but it is definitely a factor. About a third of those who suffer from mental illness could improve if they changed their diet which, also, comes without the medicinal drawbacks from prescription drugs. Though I understand that it could be difficult to cook good food when you are in a dark place. There is research that suggests that in many cases it would be cost-effective to, under a limited amount of time, practice an intense nutritional overhaul when compared with a long-term leave-of-absence and traditional nursing.”
What does gut-flora actually consist of?
“The stomach consists of around one kilogram of bacteria and microorganisms that exists naturally within the intestinal tract. Among other things they affect our bodyweight, how we feel, and how energetic we are during our everyday life.”
If I want to change my gut-flora, how long does it then take for the intestinal tract to adjust?
“In short term it just takes 12 to 18 hours for the intestinal tract to readjust and as early as that you can notice measurable changes, and right now there are studies about how one can at long term develop a more stable gut-flora that’s said to take about 3 to 12 months.”
And thus, the interview concludes. We at Healthy Family notes that it actually isn’t that difficult to achieve a healthy gut-flora, and we are certain to follow Henrik’s advice. “Eat colourful and varied good food. It works every time!
Henrik Ennart, scientific journalist within health, nutrition, and lifestyle.