TRICK OR TREAT
It’s the time of year where jack-o’-lanterns are in abundance, toffee apples are being enjoyed with devilish delight and the scarier and more goulish the costumes are the better. When it comes to the trillions of microbes in your gut, aka the microbiome, they can also be treated in a Halloween-style ‘trick’ or ‘treat’ way too.
Where the microbiome can get somewhat ‘spooked’ is more due to neglecting to feed the gut microbes rather than focussing on the foods we should be avoiding. What this equates to is a lack of fibre, a ‘scary’ scenario for our trillions of bacteria buddies.
If we don’t have enough fibre in our diet, in all its variety and diversity, it essentially starves the microbiome. This can be a ‘frightening’ prospect in terms of supporting our gut health overall.
With the myriad and often somewhat hair-raising advice on nutrition out there it can result in cutting out foods or even entire food groups, which would be to the detriment of our microbiome. Of course, we all understand that too much in the way of highly processed food and refined sugar isn’t going to be great for many health reasons. However, tuning in and enjoying these foods is all part of having a more positive relationship with our plate. This less restrictive situation helps our mindset. In turn this supports our microbiome. We also know the gut-brain axis to be of increasing significance. So instead of trying to ‘trick’ yourself and your microbiome with another faddy and/or extreme diet try to be inclusive and avoid misguided views around your food. Your microbiome is far too wily and wise to be fooled for very long in any case…!
Alongside some of your favourite Halloween treats, try to also indulge your microbiome with its preferred foods. Predominantly, these would be in the form of plant-based carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and whole grains. We want to aim for as broad an intake as possible as this provides different sources of fibre. A mix would satisfy the appetite of as many microbes in the gut as possible. This helps them to flourish and thrive to support a healthier gut overall. During this time take full advantage of the glorious Autumnal seasonal produce such as butternut and winter squashes, pumpkin, leafy dark greens like kale, cavolo nero and chestnuts. Also, apples, particularly when stewed, provide a type of fibre that helps our microbiome to produce positive substances such as butyrate. Butyrate helps to support the immune system – handy to fob off the sniffles and sneezes around this time of year. Adding in fermented foods in the way of cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi can also give your beneficial bacteria a boost.
Check out my Winter warming squash video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdXmtM-AIN0 for a delicious and hearty recipe. Why not try stewing apples with some honey or maple syrup and cinnamon? This would be a good take on traditional toffee apples – and works well to top your morning porridge or simply enjoy as a snack. Now that’s got to be a nice treat for your taste buds and your microbiome.