“What you are is what you eat.” That has been a common saying since who knows when. Diet plays a crucial role in how our body grows and develops, and how it fights off all those bad and pesky diseases that would never stop trying to get into our systems. 

I, for one, have never really actively monitored my food intake. I shy away from junk food at times, but more often than not, I implement a “see-food” diet. No, I’m not a pescatarian. What I meant is that whatever’s in the fridge is what I choose to eat. Simple, quick, and easy meals? That’s my food of choice! 

Kidding aside though, I’m not exactly a healthy eater because I don’t really count my carbs and proteins and all that. But with the event of COVID-19 and all the bad news in the world, I’ve decided to take the steps to ensure that I am as healthy as I could be. And the easiest first thing I thought of doing is to research what I should put into my mouth. 

Research on Gut Microbes

Recently, I stumbled across an old academic article from way back in 2014. The researchers concluded that there is a correlation between the microbe community present in your gut and the diet that you choose to consume. They found that once you decide to alter your diet, the type of bacteria in your gut changes as well to fit the available nutritional resources that your body provides. 

What, what? You heard that right. Much like the stars in the night sky, your gut is home to millions of bacteria. A plethora of microbes- both good and bad- live and thrive in your digestive tract. Some researchers claim that these bacteria can send out signals through your vagus nerve and to your brain, which connect the two systems together, and this allows the bacteria themselves to have an influence on your eating pattern. Some even claim that these specific organisms have a large contributory effect on the incidence of obesity in individuals. 

Research has also thought of the possibility of “acquired taste” being an effect of acquiring microbes that benefit off of that specific food and are now comfortably living in your gut. This may explain why some nationalities love certain dishes while others find them unbearable. This may also explain why after being exposed to food you didn’t really fall for at first sight while on that first family trip to Asia, you suddenly start to crave for those “spicy broth noodles with tender chicken feet” after eating it just a handful of times. Imagine the new bacteria you acquired holding out a cardboard sign saying, “Feed me, human.” 

Self-Control Is Key

Cravings are the devil! You start working out and a few days later, you’re binging on junk again. Repress the possible microbial signals that those pesky microbes are sending to your brain as much as you can. Self-control even for just the first few weeks of your diet may be the key to slowly altering your gut community. The same research mentioned before from 2014 noted that after a day of switching up your diet, the community thriving inside of your does change drastically. So it works! Just keep pushing off those cravings and make health munchie alternatives available to you. 

Some Healthy Food Choices

The gut bacteria used to dominate you with these cravings, but now it’s time to take the wheel and conquer them with your new and healthy food choices.

  1. Introduce different vegetables and plant-based products into your diet. Remember that your gut is home to a diverse array of microbes and it would be better for you to try and address all their different needs. 
  2. Make sure to regularly take in fibre. Foods rich in fibre feeds the good bacteria that contributes to your health. Prebiotics are the types of food that will help prepare the microbe’s environment- which is your gut- to be nutritionally abundant for them. 
  3. Regular consumption of probiotic food such as sauerkraut and kimchi, fresh uncooked organic vegetables, and supplements. These probiotics contain live bacteria that can aid in your digestion.
  4. Awareness that after intake of antibiotics, you should “re-seed” your guts with healthy probiotics to help the good bacteria in proliferating again, as antibiotics can harm them as much as it harms the bad bacteria that you want to get rid of.
  5. Lessen the consumption of saturated oils and fats as these may contribute to health problems in the long run. 
  6. And the last one is an extra choice that you should incorporate with your diet. Doing enough exercise, lessening exposure to stressors (or at least managing them) and getting the right amount of sleep can boost your overall body condition. 

Last Note

Always remember that a conscious decision with what you put in your fridge and pantry is as important as exercising and taking medications. Being healthy is a journey. And even as you get to your goal, you still have to actively maintain this status with balanced meals available for every day as well as work out regularly. An abundance of beneficial bacteria in your gut is the key! Keep them filled and at steady levels, and replenish them every once in a while- especially if you’ve decimated them with antibacterials.