We have seen a lot more interest in and research of the gut microbiome in the last decade or so.
What is the gut microbiome? The gut microbiome is made up of the trillions of diverse bacteria that naturally inhabit our gastrointestinal tract (otherwise called our gut). This microbiome is largely responsible for breaking down the foods we consume and for how nutrients from food are absorbed in the various systems of our body. The optimal or less optimal absorption of nutrients has in turn an effect on our risk of disease, our capability of overcoming disease, the rate of inflammation in our body and even our mental health. Gut bacteria produce chemicals that communicate with all the different organs in our body and with our brain. These chemicals also affect our mood and overall mental health.
Research has shown that certain types of food have a positive effect on the gut microbiome and others have a negative effect on it. The gut microbiome likes and reacts positively to an intake of vegetables, pulses, fruit and nuts, as well as fermented foods, sourdough breads and fiber. It seems to particularly like the bioactive polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil. Conversely it appears that the gut dislikes and reacts negatively to processed sugar, flours, industrial chemically processed oils and fats etc.
We all know that our body needs to get about 30% of its daily calories from fat sources to work optimally. Extra virgin olive oil is the most valuable edible fat we can consume. Research has shown that 90% to 95% of the ingested polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil escape digestion in the small intestine and reach the colon in the digestion process.
But what does a positive effect on the gut microbiome mean?
It means that the consumption of high phenolic extra virgin olive oil like Opus Oléa leads to:
* the reduction of pathogenic bacteria in the gut (antibacterial action), for example of the bacteria that cause ulcers
* the stimulation of growth and the preservation of beneficial bacteria in the gut (prebiotic action)
* reducing inflammation and oxidative injury in the intestine (thereby preventing colorectal cancers) - click here for a related study
* gut permeability decreases, which means that toxic or pathogenic elements are kept from leaking from the gut into the blood stream and contributing to chronic diseases
* the absorption of nutrients is maximised
* helps prevent constipation, accumulation of excessive mucus build up on the intestinal walls (that reduces the optimal absorption of nutrients), haemorrhoids and bleeding in the digestive tract
* a healthy gut is conducive to lower inflammation in the body. As we know inflammation is a leading cause of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, heart disease etc.
* a healthy gut results in lower rates of obesity and metabolic disease
Substituting other sources of fat with high quality extra virgin olive oil will have an overall positive effect on your health. 2-3 tbsp per person per day are recommended as part of a Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables, pulses and nuts.