Importance of Biodiversity for Your Gut Health and The Environment
Biodiversity refers to the vast variety of life in a particular ecosystem.
Diversity is essential for growth. New ideas, balance, empathy, and a selfless perspective all contribute to positive diversity. When it comes to the environment and our gut microbiome, the principle of diversity to thrive is no different and actually matters immensely.
Research shows that the best diet for gut health is one that is rich and diverse in whole plant foods. Our food choices dictate what is available, and what is available dictates our gut microbiome. To think one is not related to the other undermines the power our food choices have on a large scale.
Biodiversity and The Environment
The current food system is taking a great toll on the planet and is one of the major causes for loss of biodiversity. The focus of industrialized farming is on yield. However, sustainable farming focuses on growth, replenishing, and continuing the cycle that allows nature to do what it does best. Approximately 75% of the world food production comes from just 5 animals and 12 plants even though there are some 390K edible plants. What this imbalance does is it creates less room for the natural environment, less room for the least consumed, and the potential extinction of numerous plants. The loss of biodiversity means loss of species, seeds, nutrients, even potential cures and medicines, and an interference to the natural world. As one author puts it- it is the loss of knowledge learned by evolving species over millions of years.
Biodiversity In Your Diet and For Gut Health
Similarly, the key to a healthy gut microbiome, which has been titled the second brain, is richness and diversity. Our gut contains trillions of bacteria. In order to have a robust microbiome where we can metabolize a variety of foods, absorb a variety of nutrients, and protect against a variety of pathogens, we need to eat a wide variety of plant based foods with a variety of fibers. Some experts in the realm of gut health recommend a daily intake of at least 30 different species of plant foods.
How to Improve Gut Health & Support Biodiversity
Start with grains, even ancient grains, and rotate different varieties into your diet. Try quinoa and buckwheat, which provide all the essential amino acids (protein). Have oats, brown rice, farro, freekeh, spelt, sorghum, etc. Shop the farmers markets and support those who are farming in sustainable ways. Not only are these sustainable methods better for the environment, but they also yield crops that are richer in nutrient value. When nitrogen is replenished in the soil by crop rotation rather than chemically, the nutrient content of the crop is richer. So incorporate a variety of different colored vegetables and fruits, add in various beans and legumes, nuts and seeds and try to do so consistently.
If we strive for a greater balance in our diet we can protect biodiversity and drive food production in a more favorable direction that mirrors what is ideal for both the environment and our health.
And if we do this, then perhaps we can start to see positive change.
Written by TOFM Contributor:
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