How to improve the microbiome

According to some studies the intestinal microbiome, i.e. the enormous quantity of billions of bacteria, fungus and viruses that live in all corners and slots of our digestive system, especially in the colon, is of crucial importance for our life. A rich and various microbiome grants a smaller risk of developing diseases and allergies. A good diet is very important to keep the microbiome healthy and, even though in western countries there is not a complete agreement on what a “good diet” means, it is generally agreed that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is very important. The most important rule to strengthen the microbiome is to have a varied diet: it is important not to focus only on few types of food; but it is essential to vary as much as possible also according to the season. The best food consists of: legumes, whole cereals, dried fruit, probiotics (kombucha, kefir), besides fruit and vegetable. It is better to avoid or strongly reduce cooked meat, refined flours, sugar, animal fat, additives, preservatives and artificial sweeteners. In order to improve the microbiome the following habits should be considered: – spend more time in the countryside and gardening – pet/caress animals – avoid antibiotics and unnecessary medicines – drink small amounts of alcohol – not to be obsessed with hygiene – avoid vitamins and food supplements. Tim Spector, professor of epidemiology and genetics in London, made an experiment in order to find out if a person with a healthy and stable microbiome could improve the conditions of his intestine in a short time. He took part to a journey in order to make a field research in Tanzania, he lived three days with the hadza tribe, one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers of Africa. A member of the hadza tribe generally eats around six hundred species of plants and animals along the year (against the 50 species that we generally eat), besides having a very varied diet according to seasonal changes. They don’t develop any of the common western diseases, such as obesity, allergies, heart diseases and cancer. The experiment carried out by professor Spector was to live three intense days as a hunter-gatherer, without washing or disinfecting anything and getting food with the hadza, on trees, on the ground or underground. Upon his return to London the analyses on his intestinal microbiome showed clear differences between the first sample and the sample collected after the three days diet in the forest. The diversity in the microbiome and the variety of species was increased by 20% with a higher percentage of bacteria dedicated to fight obesity and infections! After a few days of ordinary diet and in his usual environment, his intestinal microorganisms returned to be substantially the same as before the journey. In a few years the analyses of microbiome will become ordinary: meanwhile everyone should try to improve intestinal health with a “wilder” diet and lifestyle.