Do without food? No thanks! Did you know that the intestinal flora not only influences our health, but also makes kilos fall? An intact microbiome, nourished by a varied diet with lots of fibre, can work wonders! This was also recently proven in a study by the health magazine “Puls” and the knowledge programme “Einstein” on SRF. The approximately 2 kilos of bacteria in our digestive tract therefore have consistently positive effects on our body weight and well-being. The prerequisite is that they are as diverse as possible, which requires the right diet and regular exercise.
First years are important
Even in the womb, the mother’s intestinal bacteria strengthen the newborn. How the mother-to-be eats therefore has an impact on the child and its immune system. A healthy and varied diet is also particularly important after birth. This is because the intestinal flora is formed up to the third year of life. During these years, you can still consciously control the development of the microbiome. After that, this is only possible to a limited extent. Currently, biomedical scientist Stephanie Ganahl is investigating the importance of breast milk for the development of the microbiome. It is already clear that a varied diet with lots of vegetables and foods that are as natural as possible is important for a healthy microbiome. Ready-made meals and low-fibre fast food should therefore be avoided as far as possible.
Good for health and psyche
For a long time, science paid too little attention to our digestion. Only experiments with mice showed the amazing effects of our intestinal flora on the body. In the animal experiments, healthy mice were implanted with the intestinal bacteria of their fellow mice fed on fast food. It didn’t take long before the healthy mice also became fatter and increasingly isolated. It has also been proven in humans that the intestinal flora influences weight and that there is a connection between obesity and depression. Furthermore, bacteria influence hormone production and are important for the immune system. They support the body in recognising and defending itself against pathogens.
Primitive peoples as role models
We now know that an impoverished intestinal flora is one of the causes of many diseases of civilisation. Obesity, diabetes, intestinal inflammations, allergies and depression can be the result of a poor diet. To find out which diet now makes sense, researchers have analysed the lifestyles of primitive peoples. They eat the fruits of nature. They eat a lot of vegetables, but only a little fat and meat.
This high-fibre diet has an effect on the microbiome: people of primitive peoples have up to twice (!) as many good intestinal bacteria. In combination with regular exercise, these are a key to a healthy body weight and a strong immune system.
Eat only vegetables?
No. It is important to have a varied diet. So please do not eat only raw vegetables. In the knowledge programme “Einstein”, the microbiome of Kathrin Hönegger, who eats a vegetarian and gluten-free diet, was analysed. As you can see in the graph, it was still pretty monotonous at the beginning of the experiment (large dark green bar). The expert then recommended that she include more calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese, yoghurt or quark in her menu. And promptly, after only a few weeks, the microbiome showed itself to be significantly more colourful (see lower bar).
So (as almost always in life) it is important to provide variety! Plenty of vegetables and fruits are good, but dairy products and meat should also be consumed in bulk. And of course, don’t forget exercise. If you think about all this, there is nothing standing in the way of healthy – physical and mental – health. Because: the richer the microbiome, the healthier the person.