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Gut Microbiome and Nutrition

The large intestine contains the highest concentration of microbes in our bodies and these microbes are different for everyone. The different types depend on genes, age, gender, diet, hygiene and even climate and occupation. Studies show that gut microbes even affect pain, mood, sleep, stress, and how our bodies use the food we eat to fight infection and keep us healthy. The microbes in our gut also affect how the nutrients we eat are stored in our bodies, as well as regulate our appetites and have some control in our weight.

Diets high in fat and refined sugars can cause the good and bad bacteria in our gut to become unbalanced. This can cause inflammation and increase our risk for infections. The gut microbiota actually act to crowd out bad bacteria that can cause infection. It can also decrease inflammation throughout the body by releasing specific compounds to prevent attacks on the immune system. 

Foods that are good for gut health include high FIBER foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and pre/probiotics!

 

Fiber Foods:

  • Bran cereal, FiberOne bar
  • Beans (lentils, kidney, black, lima, etc)
  • Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
  • Quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, whole wheat bread
  • Spinach, collard greens, peas, broccoli, squash
  • Almonds, sesame seeds, pistachios
  • Pears, apples, dried fig, prunes, oranges

 

Probiotic Foods:

  • Aged cheeses, greek yogurt, kefir
  • Kimchi, kombucha, olives, sauerkraut, soybeans
  • Sourdough bread

 

Prebiotic Foods:

  • Berries, bananas, tomatoes, vegetables
  • Barley, flaxseed, oatmeal, wheat
  • Beans, chickpeas, lentils

 

For more in-depth info check out this link>> http://www.nutritionnews.abbott/nutrition-as-medicine/the-role-of-the-microbiome-in-gut-health-.html?fbclid=IwAR2R1aisahO4KeNLiZNXXiszzbQoZDqtCoT-5jLopPYlI-PXhMeHVepZ464

 

KM

Sugar-Coated

The American Heart Association recommends no more then 6 TEASPOONS (25 grams or 100 calories) of added sugar per day for women, and 9 TEASPOONS (38 grams or 150 calories) per day for men. To put things into perspective…

1 Tablespoon Ketchup = 3.7 grams Sugar

1 Quaker Chewy Bar = 7 grams Sugar

1 Cup apple juice = 24 grams Sugar

1 Serving Yoplait Fruit, Nonfat Yogurt = 47 grams Sugar

Added Sugar

With the new Nutrition Facts label, there is now a column for “Added Sugar”. This is great information to have and it tells us how many grams of calorie containing sweeteners/added sugars have been added. Consuming added sugars in excess can cause weight gain and obesity because they do not contain nutrients and are a form of empty calories. In large amounts, these sweeteners rapidly increase blood glucose levels, insulin levels, and triglycerides. When these levels are elevated, your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illnesses increases.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners, aka non-nutritive sweeteners, are another type of sweetener that can be added to food products and are widely known for being added to diet beverages. They are low and even no calorie sweeteners such as Nutrasweet, Sweet One, Sweet’N Low, and Splenda. In their chemical forms they are Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin, and Sucralose. This type of sweetener also provides no nutrient benefits for the body. Studies show that daily consumption of artificially sweetened beverages, such as diet drinks, are associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes (Gardener, et al., 2019).

Artificially sweetened beverages can be used among consumers to decrease calories but use of these beverages should be limited-time and as an in-between while transitioning to drinking water only.

Real Sugar/Natural Sugar

Not all sugar is bad. Naturally occurring sugars in food such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose) provide important nutrients. Whole fruits contain antioxidants and fiber, which helps you feel full for longer and provide metabolic benefits. The natural sugars combined with the other nutrients in these foods are digested more slowly than the added sugars which helps stabilize blood glucose levels. When given the option, always choose whole fruit over dried fruit or fruit juice.

 

As always, we recommend a balance of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. However, there is room for the occasional Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper in moderation. Living a healthy lifestyle is about variety, moderation and making choices for YOU and your health!

KM

 

 

Studies and Pictures Cited:

  1. Gardener, H., & Elkind, M. S. (2019). Artificial Sweeteners, Real Risks. Stroke,50(3), 549-551. doi:10.1161/strokeaha.119.024456
  2. Strawbridge, H. (2018, January 08). Artificial sweeteners: Sugar-free, but at what cost? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030
  3. Photo by Mikael Stenberg on Unsplash