Gut health and the change of seasons
Health science is pretty cool stuff. But gut health science in particular is even better in our book!
If you're just starting your gut health journey, be sure to check out our previous blog posts to bring you up to speed, or download our guide for the full experience, including tips, recipes and shopping lists.
For those of you playing along for a while now, you'll know the idea of change in the gut microbiome is nothing new; it's constantly changing! The unique mix of species found in your body changes according to what you eat, where you live, how much you exercise, how much contact you have with animals and other people, and even how much time you spend inside.
But did you know that seasonal variations in the composition of our gut microbiome exist, and are linked to dietary changes throughout the year?
It makes sense though, right? If the produce we eat changes throughout the seasons and so too does our external environment, so too should our gut microbiota. Unfortunately though, it's not that simple for many living in the modern Western world, as we have access to produce all year round, even if it's out of season where we live, and our environments are artificially heated and cooled. Our poor microbiome doesn't know what time of year it is, which potentially means we don't recover from our sleepy winter mode as well as we could for example.
So how do you ensure your gut health is in sync with the season
Here's our tips for seasonally supporting your gut microbiome.
Follow seasonal light cues
A healthy microbiome and good sleep go hand in hand (we've talked about it here). Your gut microbes help to produce or trigger the production of hormones related to sleep, including melatonin, which signals your body that it's time to sleep; serotonin, which helps you sleep deeply; and GABA, which makes you feel calm. This relationship works the other way too: even short-term sleep deprivation can throw your bacterial balance off
Eat seasonal produce
As delicious as they are, stone fruits aren't meant to be eaten in winter here in Australia. Eating produce out of season isn't the best option for your gut microbiome––which makes sense, given that we evolved eating seasonally. Foods forced to develop out of season contain lower levels of nutrients and higher levels of harmful substances like lectin, which damages the walls of your intestines and makes it easier for your gut microbiome to become unbalanced. And lets not get started on the pesticides used to grow them!
Get outside as much as possible
Spending time in nature increases your microbial diversity, both by exposing you to all kinds of different bacteria and by lowering your stress levels. When you're stressed, your body slows down digestion to the point that only bacteria that can cope with a slow food transit time survive. This lowers the diversity of your microbiome, which makes it much more likely for it to become unbalanced.)
Told you gut health science was interesting!
Has this made you think about how you'll change up your routine for the new season? Let us know your thoughts below.