the gut microbiome & pizza with Dr. David Bernstein, his wife, and two of their grandkids!

The Gut Microbiome: A Powerful Ally in Your Longevity Journey

March is our family’s favorite month of the year. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, basketball, National Nutrition Month, and National Physicians week. Doctors Day is officially March 30, a national day set aside to celebrate and express gratitude to your physicians. One common way to show gratitude is to say thanks, send a card, or give a red carnation.

It is understandable that nutrition garners an entire month. There is so much to celebrate and there is so much to talk about because of all the different eating lifestyles that want their day in the sun.

But did you also know that there is a national pizza month? Really, an entire month? Yes, every October. Maybe because it is the favorite food of most Americans, and it gets an entire month because there are so many varieties and topping options.

Physicians in training, including me, received very little education about nutrition. Over my career, and especially in the past fifteen years since I have published my thoughts about healthy aging, I have applied myself to learning new things about nutrition for my benefit and to share with my family (if they chose to listen) and you. (I never know who is the most receptive.)

It has become clear to me that after 40 years of practice I assumed my patients understood more about nutrition than they really did. As I have taken deep dives into healthier alternatives for eating, I am disturbed by the biases I have uncovered because of the potential impact from various branches of the food industry.

The Gut Microbiome: Our Underrated Inner Organ

Our gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms living in our gastrointestinal tract. It behaves like a separate organ in our body by communicating with our brain, immune system, and inflammatory system. By doing so, scientists have discovered that our microbiome plays a major role in our response to infection, how we age, our mental state such as anxiety and depression, and risk for developing heart disease and dementia.

Overhauling or making adjustments to what we eat to ward off risk for those conditions is a personal responsibility and one that healthcare professionals can provide help.

What’s best for your Microbiome?

What changes should you make for a healthier gut? I might sound like a broken record, but a Mediterranean eating lifestyle or a whole food plant-based approach works the best, hands down. Fiber, a major component of plants, plays an important role in maintaining our healthy microbiome.

Sugar as well as processed foods such as wheat, rice and corn are major disruptors to a healthy microbiome. These substances wreak havoc on our microbiome and are implicated in obesity, nervous disorders, inflammatory disorders such as GI-Crohn and Ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel. Rheumatologic conditions are inflammatory diseases and may well be adversely affected by an unhealthy balance of our microbiome. We know that coronary artery disease is an inflammatory condition which can be adversely affected by the gut’s imbalance. Cognitive decline and dementia have also been linked to the microbiome.

Even longevity scientists have shown the link between the aging process and the health of our microbiome.

Fueling Your Gut: Beyond Pizza

So what are some of the healthy foods to eat for your gut’s microbiome? Well, the bad news is that it’s not the typical pizza that Americans love to eat. 

I recommend exploring recipes rich in:

  • Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas; I love lentil soup, I can eat it for lunch all week.
  • Seeds: chia, flax, pumpkin; I soak chia seeds with almond milk at night and add them to my protein shake in the morning.
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashews; I spread almond butter on celery or carrots for a great snack.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables: aim for a colorful variety with multiple servings daily

(Note: Make your own pizza for a healthy alternative. Here are two of Melissa’s recipes: homemade pizza and cauliflower crust pizza.)

Empowering Yourself: A Call to Action

I encourage you to delve deeper into the fascinating world of the gut microbiome. Explore reliable resources, learn about gut-healthy recipes, and consider my Power of 5 Ultimate Formula book OR Melissa Bernstein’s Power of 5 Test Kitchen Cookbook.

Remember, a healthy gut microbiome is a powerful ally in your journey toward health and longevity.

To a long and healthy life,

David Bernstein, MD

P.S. Looking for a deeper dive?
Our online course, “Power of 5 Ultimate Formula–Your Journey for Health, Wellness and Longevity” is a 5-hour course packed with microbiome-friendly wisdom.

P.P.S. Our oral cavity has a microbiome too! The impact these microorganisms have on our health and chronic inflammation is coming soon in a later blog.

My blog content was generated by a human (David Bernstein) with the polishing aid of artificial intelligence.

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