This weekend, I experienced a crazy paradigm shift. For the better part of four years, I’ve been investigating how people can get healthy and stay healthy, and I’ve been almost entirely focused on food and nutrition. Sure, I looked at other things as well – stress, exercise, sleep – but to me, what determined whether you were sick or well was diet. All you had to do was figure out what foods your body liked best, eat those, and you’d be good to go! Maybe some choice supplementation here or there, especially for tough cases like mine, but nutrition was definitely most important.
For instance, if obesity or diabetes was the problem, there was definitely a carb-tolerance issue, and probably not enough good fat in the diet. For digestive issues, FODMAPs and lectins were bad news, and for heart disease, sugar and omega-6’s were probably the culprits. And of course, gluten was just bad for everything. This was essentially my mental map of issues people have and how they’re related to food, albeit a drastically simplified one. In my mind, I understood that people eat food, and that food can affect your body and make it unhealthy, so if we just understand how food is metabolized and used, we can understand health.
Syontix.com is the most well-researched, in-depth investigation of gut flora that I’ve found on the internet thus far, and it’s made me realize something: gut bacteria are central to everything. From diabetes to ulcerative colitis to obesity to acne, you can tie them all back to gut flora.
Now don’t get me wrong – nutrition is still a vital component of health, and this will still be a nutrition blog. BUT, my perspective has shifted: now, nutrition is important not only because of how the food directly affects your body, but also because of how it affects your gut bacteria.
Granted, a lot of issues still exist seperately from how they affect your microflora. I haven’t done all the research yet, but I’m certain that many nutrition principles remain important regardless of how they affect gut bacteria, especially the simpler principles like avoiding micro- and macronutrient deficiencies. Also, I’m still really fuzzy on thyroid/adrenal issues; a lot of people struggle with them, but I honestly know next to nothing about them, or how they may or may not relate to one’s microbiome. I guess I should get on that!
But what’s cool about this discovery is that now, I don’t have to be torn between focusing my clinical knowledge on patients with digestive issues and focusing on a broader clientele. By focusing on microflora, I’m addressing what is currently a massive gaping hole in healthcare, and I should be able to use that knowledge to help everybody! I honestly can’t wait to explore all of the literature on microflora in the UNC database and libraries. My brain is ready to explode thinking about how much there is to read, but I’m so excited to learn!
This article perfectly sums up what I’m feeling. I especially love this: “[W]e have entered a period that will likely witness the creation and rise of an entire new field of medicine: medical ecology. Nutrition will most certainly likely sit at its core.”
Can I please be the first official Medical Ecologist??
Top photo from Forbes