TV’s Dr Michael Mosley’s di­ges­tion tips

Cul­ti­vate healthy di­ges­tion by feed­ing your mi­cro­biome what it loves

Diabetic Living - - Contents -

Award-win­ning BBC sci­ence pre­sen­ter Dr Michael Mosley calls them ‘Old Friends’. They’re the mi­crobes that make up your mi­cro­biome in your di­ges­tive sys­tem, and they have evolved over mil­lions of years. “Many of them are es­sen­tial to our health,” he writes in his lat­est book, The Clever Guts Diet. “Just as we have rav­aged the rain­forests and con­signed nu­mer­ous an­i­mal species to obliv­ion, so we have dec­i­mated the pop­u­la­tions that live in­side us. For­tu­nately we can help th­ese Old Friends bounce back.”

Here is an ex­tract from his book.

The Clever Guts Diet is a ‘diet’ in the same way you might talk about be­ing on a veg­e­tar­ian diet or a Mediter­ranean diet. It’s not about calo­ries [kilo­joules] or re­stric­tion; it’s about the sort of food and life­style changes you should make if you have gut prob­lems, or sim­ply want to keep yours in good con­di­tion.

As well as ex­tract­ing en­ergy from our food, the gut ac­counts for most of our im­mune sys­tem and pro­duces more than two dozen hor­mones that in­flu­ence ev­ery­thing from our ap­petite to our mood.

I also love the fact that, buried in our in­testines, deep in­side its tis­sue, is a very thin layer of brain. It’s called the en­teric sys­tem and it is made up of the same cells, neu­rons, which are found in the brain. There are over 100 mil­lion neu­rons in the gut, as many as you would find in the brain of a cat. Ex­cept in­stead of be­ing in one big

lump, like the brain, the neu­rons in your gut are spread out in a thin mesh that ex­tends all the way from your throat to your rec­tum. This ‘sec­ond brain’ doesn’t do much ge­om­e­try or worry about tax re­turns, but it does or­ches­trate di­ges­tion and mod­er­ate gut pain.

Your gut is a won­der­ful piece of en­gi­neer­ing. But in many ways the star of the di­ges­tive show is not ac­tu­ally part of the hu­man body at all – it is the one to two ki­los of mi­crobes that live in your gut and make up the mi­cro­biome.

Our wide­spread ig­no­rance about the mi­cro­biome arises from the fact that, un­til quite re­cently, its in­hab­i­tants, mi­crobes, were im­pos­si­ble to study. We knew they helped pro­tect the gut from dan­ger­ous in­vaders; that they syn­the­sised a few vi­ta­mins; and that they gob­bled up fi­bre that our bod­ies can’t di­gest. Now we know they do far more than that. They help reg­u­late our body weight. They can de­cide how much en­ergy your body ex­tracts from the food you eat; they con­trol hunger sig­nals; they help de­cide which foods you crave; and they de­ter­mine how much your blood sugar spikes in re­sponse to a meal. Can your mi­cro­biome make you fat? It cer­tainly can. Can you change your mi­cro­biome so it works with you rather than 2 against you? You cer­tainly can. The mi­cro­biome teaches and reg­u­lates our en­tire im­mune sys­tem. Over the last half­cen­tury we have seen a mas­sive rise in al­ler­gic dis­eases, such as asthma and eczema, caused by an over­ac­tive im­mune sys­tem. We have also seen a huge surge in au­toim­mune dis­eases, rang­ing from in­flam­ma­tory bowel dis­ease to type 1 di­a­betes, which again are pri­mar­ily caused by an im­mune sys­tem that has got­ten out of con­trol. Chang­ing the mix of bac­te­ria in your gut can re­duce the 3 im­pact of th­ese dis­eases.

The mi­cro­biome is what takes the bits of food our body can’t di­gest and con­verts them into a wide range of hor­mones and chem­i­cals.

Th­ese, it seems, can con­trol our mood, as well as our ap­petite and gen­eral health. Chang­ing your biome can re­duce anx­i­ety and lessen de­pres­sion.

Where pos­si­ble, eat un­pro­cessed ‘real’ foods.

Keep­ing your biome prop­erly fed and cared for is def­i­nitely worth­while. Use the recipes from The Clever Guts Diet to give your biome some­thing to chew on.

Turn the page for three recipes that will get you started.

The gut ac­counts for most of our im­mune sys­tem

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