The greatest medical turnaround in the past 150 years is the discovery of the microbiome, the community of bacteria living within our gastrointestinal tract that plays a critical role in our digestion, immune system, mood, vitality, and overall brain health.
Although for the past century and a half we’ve all believed that microbes were our enemy, our new understanding of the microbiome reveals quite a different truth. Not only are these bacteria not our enemy, they can improve our health at a very deep level.
A New Approach To Health
I'm always amazed at how supporting the microbiome has multiple benefits for a patient’s health. For example, Joan came to me in her 50s for help with severe fatigue, thinning hair, and brain fog. I put her on the Microbiome Diet, the subject of my recently published book, The Microbiome Diet. This diet focuses on microbiome-friendly foods to help support healthy bacteria and heal the gut.
Within six weeks, Joan was feeling energized, sharp, and focused. Her hair grew thick and shiny, and her skin began to glow. And after she had remained on the Microbiome Diet for six months, she lost 43 pounds without even trying.
What is so exciting about this approach to health is the way that the microbiome activates the body’s ability to heal. Through multiple pathways, these bacteria affect our metabolism, our digestive tract, our immune system, and even our genes, cuing our bodies toward better health and permanent weight loss.
Our Partner In Healing
As a physician, I'm continually amazed at how the microbiome is, in effect, my partner in healing.
Above and beyond my own ability to devise medical solutions, I depend upon the extraordinary intelligence of the microbiome, which improves our bodies’ function in ways far beyond what we humans could ever produce on our own.
It’s no accident that the microbiome has this far-reaching power, because it evolved with us. Over hundreds of thousands of years, our bodies — and particularly our digestive and immune systems — developed in partnership with the trillions of bacteria in our microbiome.
This is why certain types of fiber — known as inulin and arabinogalactans — are essential for weight loss and our overall health — because they nourish our microbiome. If we take care of our bacteria, they will take care of us.
How To Activate The Microbiome
A 2011 study found that kimchee, a traditional Korean dish made of cabbage, garlic, and other vegetables, helped obese and overweight patients lose body fat, lower cholesterol, and reduce triglycerides. Why?
Because kimchee, like all fermented food, is rich in healthy bacteria that support the microbiome. Virtually all traditional cultures have some form of fermented food — and now we know why!
You might have read about the incredible weight-loss power of yacon, a root vegetable grown in Latin America. Dr. Oz conducted his own successful weight-loss study as well.
What gives yacon its power? I believe it is the high concentration of inulin, a form of fiber that is one of the primary foods of the microbiome. We can’t digest it — but our bacteria can.
In other words, our relationship to our body’s bacteria is a close, symbiotic friendship: we take care of them, and they take care of us. Neither one of us could survive without the other.
How To Mind Your Microbiome
Befriend your bacteria! When you sit down to a meal, you’re not just feeding yourself — you’re feeding the trillions of microbes on which your body depends. Choose foods that are good for both of you!
Avoid the wrong foods:
- Processed sugar
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Artificial sweeteners
- Refined flour and starches
- Additives and preservatives
Choose microbiome-friendly foods.
Your microbiome superfoods are rich in inulin, arabinogalactans, or oligosaccharides — the fiber that your bacteria craves:
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Fermented foods: yogurt, kefir (a type of fermented milk), sauerkraut, kimchee, fermented vegetables
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