When most people think of bacteria, they think of harmful diseases. But some bacteria are actually vital to our health. We live with trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms in our gut, which we call our microbiome. Without these microorganisms, our health would be unbalanced. They help digest food, support immune functions, and even contribute to brain health. We want to do what we can to maintain a healthy microbiome; the foods we eat can have a tremendous impact on our gut health. But more than that, where and how our food is grown affects our gut health. (1)
Gut Health Affected By What We Eat
The biggest impact on our gut health has to be the food we eat. A wide range of diverse food helps ensure the different bacteria have what they need to promote a balanced microbiome. However, this doesn’t mean eating at a different fast-food restaurant every day. We should always eat a wide range of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Consuming whole foods such as fruits and vegetables helps prevent growth of several disease-causing bacteria, while simultaneously contributing to growth of healthy bacteria. (2)
Gut Health Affected by How Food is Grown
Variety is the spice of life, and variety in our diet helps maintain healthy gut bacteria. But it is also important how and where our food is grown. Processed foods do not promote a healthy gut. Whole foods, organically grown, are best for our microbiome. Organic foods don’t use pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or herbicides, which can negatively affect the soil. The soil is where microbes, such as healthy fungi and bacteria, live and thrive. When plants grow in rich, healthy soil, they absorb the microbes along with nutrients from the soil. These bacteria benefit the plant, which then passes on the benefits to those who eat the plant. (3,4,5)
Conventional foods can contribute to soil degradation, which kills healthy bacteria. The foods don’t absorb the beneficial nutrients, and then lose their potential benefits to our gut health. How farmers treat their soil is just as important as how they treat the crops. Healthy farms lead to healthy guts. (5)
Gut Health Affected by Where Food is Grown
This leads to another important variable in our gut health– where our food grows. Research shows that eating a variety of locally produced organic whole foods improves gut health over simply eating organic. With local foods, there is less time for fresh produce to lose their nutrients. Nutrients begin to slowly decline just 24 hours after harvesting, so the fresher, and more local, the better. (6)
Even a home garden contributes to our gut health in a positive way. Herbs and fresh produce take nutrients from the soil. When we grow natural organic plants in or around our home, we reap more than healthy food. We promote healthy soil, and healthy microbes for improved gut health. (2)
Farming for Gut Health
Producing superfoods that support the well-being of entire populations is no small feat, but it is through small farms that whole communities flourish. Local organic whole foods lead to a balance in overall health by enhancing vital bacteria, and flushing out toxins.
Studies confirm that locally sourced organic foods that contribute to healthy soil are better for the environment and the planet. These foods are also better for our gut health. Local organic farms often rotate crops to produce variety, promoting healthy microbes in the soil, and tastier vegetables. Sustainable farming promotes better soil, and a healthier gut. (6)
Learn more about superfoods that promote your microbiome. Eat better for yourself today, with homegrown, rich-soil foods for your future.