Let Food be thy medicine
Willows Preschool has a passionate interest in the link between diet and health. Not surprisingly, what is emerging is that what is good for adults is just as good for children.
It’s no surprise then that the famous quote “let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, is ascribed to Hippocrates, (400BC) the Greek physician who is considered the father of Western medicine and way ahead of his time. The sentiment behind the quote is sound. A healthy diet can indeed help to prevent or treat a wide range of illnesses.
But what is a healthy diet?
There is increasing evidence that our gut microbiota (the bugs in our digestive system) produce products (metabolites) that can either be anti-inflammatory or cause chronic low-level inflammation depending on our diet – or the food we feed these critters!
Here, I want to discuss the role of fibre and red meat in these processes.
This is important because the slow burn of chronic inflammation is associated with a variety of diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer, which are now considered to be lifestyle diseases that can be prevented rather than cured.
If this theory is correct, it could have implications for the treatment and prevention of chronic diseases.
A high intake of dietary fibre has been linked with a number of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, the type of fibre consumed is also important. Soluble fibre, which dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance, can help to regulate blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels. insoluble fibre, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water and helps to add bulk to the stool, making it easier to pass. Both types of fibre are essential for maintaining a healthy gut. However, soluble fibre is particularly important for children as it helps to feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. One type of fibre inulin has been shown to have several health benefits. For example, butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that is produced when inulin is fermented by gut bacteria, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. In addition, inulin has been shown to stimulate the production of helpful peptides, which help to regulate appetite and digestion. Thus, inulin is a beneficial compound with a wide range of health applications and would be a good addition to any meal plan.
In two new studies, Cleveland Clinic researchers have uncovered new mechanisms that demonstrate why and how regularly eating red meat can increase the risk of heart disease, and the role gut bacteria play in that process. The studies were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and the European Heart Journal.
These studies add to a growing body of evidence that TMA, a compound produced by gut bacteria when we eat red meat, contributes to atherosclerosis – hardening and narrowing of the arteries.
Data from 692 individuals show that TMA promotes atherosclerosis by increasing the production of inflammatory cells called monocytes, which are a type of white blood cell. Monocytes are an important part of the immune system and help to fight infection, but they can also contribute to atherosclerosis by promoting inflammation.
At Willows Preschool, we are very proud of our outlook on looking after the last human organ the microbiome.
Not only do we provide an abundance of probiotics and prebiotics, in addition, we provide mindfulness, gratitude, exercise and lots of hugs. All these contribute to gut health and the plasticity of the developing brain.
Best of all – this is all evidence-based!