So, I’m currently taking part in an online course through the University of Colorado – Gut Check: Exploring Your Microbiome. It’s fascinating.
Gut health is the key to overall health. (Kris Carr)
As a result of receiving some really poor health test results, I wrote about all disease beginning in the gut back in June. At around the same time, information about this wee course somehow magically turned up in my in-box. It seemed like someone, somewhere was sending me a message! So, I signed up.
Why do I care so much about my micro biome? – And why should you?
Well, it turns out our microbes train our immune system. They definitely affect our health and it is very likely they influence our behaviour, too.
As a human being, you have around 10 trillion human cells. Pretty amazing.
Even more amazing is that you have around 100 trillion microbial cells.
And, what’s even more amazing is that the differences in the human genome (the genes that make us human) between any two human beings are microscopic in comparison to the differences the microbiota of the same two human beings. How different? We share 99.99% of our human genome and only 10% of our microbiota. WOW.
THAT’S why I care so much about my microbiome.
But what can a lay person do to improve gut health?
Well, there are several factors which influence the make-up of your gut microbiota:-
– antibiotic usage
There’s not much any of us can do about age. And, the same is true of our genetics and any previous antibiotic usage.
What we can control is what we eat and how we choose to live moving forward – which affects our physiology, too.
We all know the basics (and it is beyond the scope of this wee post to go into great detail about specifics) but, needless to say – increasing your fresh vegetable intake, choosing pasture raised animal protein, reducing processed food and sugar, swapping out soda for water, moving and getting some sun daily, and ensuring you’re getting quality sleep are all key.
All these bacteria that coat our skin and live in our intestines, they fend off bad bacteria. They protect us. And you can’t even digest your food without the bacteria that are in your gut. They have enzymes and proteins that allow you to metabolize foods you eat. (Bonnie Bassler)
And, conveniently, that brings me back in a lovely circle to why I’ve chosen to follow the autoimmune protocol. You already know that the protocol is a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system.
But, it’s more than that. It also helps break down other areas of your life into manageable chunks so that you can effect change that improves your health. And this includes gut health. Things like improving sleep, relaxing/managing stress, moving, improving your mood, and more…
As part of my AIP ‘reintroduction of food’ caper, I keep a food journal. In addition to tracking everything I eat, I also track my health, sleep, exercise, mood and stress levels and – at the risk of over-sharing – my bathroom habits, too.
Sure. In the beginning, like many new things, it was a drag. But now it has become almost second nature.
And, it is surprisingly helpful.
Want to know why you should keep a food journal?
Keeping a journal will show you exactly what goes into your mouth each day. You might think that you know exactly what you eat everyday. If so, I’m pretty confident you don’t. I can tell you that writing down what you eat guarantees you know exactly what you’re eating. Every little bit.
A Food Journal Can Show You What You Need To Eat. Even if you think you’re getting enough vegetables, you may find you’re not. Conversely, you may find you’re really eating far more sugar or processed foods than you thought – and, now you need to cut back.
As part of the Uni of Colorado course, I tracked my average daily intake of foods for 10 days. This is what my food intake currently looks like:
Your Food Journal Can Help You Plan Your Meals. We all know we should be eating a variety of foods. Particularly vegetables. And, most of us are guilty of sticking to the tried and true. Keeping a food journal allows you to see just how ‘stuck in a rut you might be’. At first, you will use your food diary to keep track of the meals that you eat. But over time, I find I use my journal to plan out meals in order to create a more balanced diet. A good example of how this works is my effort to eat liver once a week. I can quickly tell how on target I am with that goal.
Your Food Journal Will Keep You on Honest. Strange but true. And, even better, over time, your food journal will actually make you want to eat healthier. Every time you write down a food you know is unhealthy, you’ll want to avoid doing it in the future.
Tracking allows you to monitor what’s working and what’s not. Over time, if you have a reaction to something, it is much easier to pin it down to the source when you can see what you have eaten on any given day. And, then you can effect change to prevent it happening again. This is especially true when reintroducing foods on the autoimmune protocol. It’s also how I worked out – very quickly that carob is not my friend.
What do you think about keeping a food journal?
Is it something you would consider?