The importance of the gut biome on your everyday health, by Eden Chef Elisha Morgan

At Eden Health Retreat, every aspect of our guests’ stays are carefully curated by our in-house health experts – from exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, and beyond. 

In this journal entry, one of our wonderful chefs and nutritionists Elisha Morgan explains the importance of the microbiome and its effect on our overall health, cognitive function, mood and more. She explains how we can unlock optimal wellbeing by including fresh, wholesome food in our diet.

Food… it’s plentiful, varied and easily available, but how do we choose what to eat? And just as importantly, how does what we eat affect our health?

Abundant, and often conflicting, online nutritional information has left most of us confused and overwhelmed about the best eating plan to follow. Many people place themselves on increasingly-restrictive diets – on the advice of the internet – in an attempt to improve their current state of health. However, for the vast majority of the general population, a diet consisting of plentiful, whole food sources with a focus on plants is ideal and supplies everything our bodies need to be healthy and vibrant.

The impact of our microbiome on our overall health

The role of a healthy microbiome is central to our overall health, with benefits extending to, but not restricted to, weight management, mental health, immunity and metabolic health. Eating foods that contain a wide range of beneficial microbiome, or ‘species’ is key.

A variety of soluble and insoluble fibres within the diet provide a food source for healthy bacterial species that produce byproducts called short-chain fatty acids. These nourish and fortify the intestinal barrier, optimise the absorption of nutrients, reduce the potential for immune reactivity and minimise inflammation. These are all involved in the initial stages of allergy onset and many systemic illnesses such as insulin resistance, autoimmunity and general nutrient deficiencies. 

Ensuring adequate daily fibre and water intake reduces cardiovascular risk and assists the management of female hormonal conditions. Each day both cholesterol and metabolised oestrogen are removed by the bowel. By drinking enough water you help this process. If you haven’t drunk enough water there is the potential for any cholesterol or metabolised oestrogen ‘waste’ to be absorbed back into the bloodstream. This can cause hormonal-based health issues. A daily serving of oats or psyllium is a well-loved naturopathic way of lowering serum cholesterol levels. Add them to your Eden Goodness Granola for some daily extra goodness!

Our microbiome is also responsible for the production of over 80% of our brain’s neurotransmitters, such as GABA and serotonin – also known as our anti-anxiety and ‘feel-good’ chemicals. Just more good reasons to favour whole plant foods!

Nutrition and the demands of our modern lifestyles 

With the overwhelming abundance, low-cost and ease of consuming processed convenience foods at a moment’s notice, combined with added nutritional demands that come hand-in-hand with the stress of modern life, it’s no wonder that general fatigue, hormonal disruption and chronic disease are on the rise. A qualified naturopath or nutritionist can devise a plan specific to your unique needs. However, finding a path back to health can be as easy as increasing your daily choices of whole foods over processed foods. For instance, eat an apple rather than drink a glass of apple juice.

A diet with adequate protein (a general guideline is 0.8 – 1g protein per kg body weight) alongside a moderate intake of nuts, seeds, whole grains and a vast abundance of colourful plant foods (mostly fresh seasonal vegetables) will provide the fibre needed to keep the gut and microbiome happy. It also contains the full array of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytochemicals to support all organs and tissues of the body. 

Click here to download our ebook A Taste of Eden with 25 of our much-loved retreat recipes as a guide to get started.

Nutrient-rich whole foods to nourish your microbiome

As a little inspiration, here are a few recent scientific findings regarding the immense health properties of whole, fresh foods:

Red dragonfruit has been found to boost colonisation of Akkermansia muciniphila –  a beneficial bacteria abundant in the microbiome of those with a healthy weight – within the gut, whilst being absent or in low numbers in overweight subjects. It has also been found to lead to increased secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1. Improved glucose management is thought to be the key factor for weight management benefits.

Daily intake of whole, steel-cut oats supplies beta-glucan and effectively assists in lowering serum cholesterol (caused from a high-fat diet) via bowel elimination.

Glucosinolates, compounds within cruciferous plants such as broccoli, assist in liver and bowel detoxification and elimination of oestrogen. These assist in the management of female conditions related to oestrogen excesses such as heavy periods and endometriosis.

Resistant starch is a superfood, ideal for beneficial gut bacteria and is developed by cooking and cooling potatoes, pasta and rice before consumption (and is also found naturally in green bananas). Another bonus is that developing resistant starch in these foods reduces available energy, thus minimising a spike in blood glucose. It’s ideal for those actively trying to minimise the risk of, or effectively manage, Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

At Eden, our kitchen team is dedicated to providing a seasonal, vibrant and nutritionally-balanced menu based on whole, fresh foods. Our aim is to nourish and inspire all guests, past, present and future, to get creative in the kitchen, include more of the good foods in their daily meals and enjoy the benefits of increased health and vitality!

To discover more about the wholesome and nourishing dining experience at Eden, click here.