There has been quite a buzz of interest in the gut microbiome in recent years as more scientific studies are being released. Manufacturers have been quick to spot a gap in the market and the supermarket shelves are heaving with all manner of probiotic drinks. However, little has been written about the mycobiome until Dr Mahmoud Ghannoum’s work has recently come to our attention.
Dr Ghannoum, a research scientist at Case Western Reserve University has been studying fungi for more than 40 years and his work has been cited over 20,000 times. Dr Ghannoum also known as Dr G. has found that a key component of the microbiome is a fungal community which he called the mycobiome. Dr G explains that as with gut bacteria, some of these fungi are harmless, some are helpful, and some can be very bad if they grow out of control.
The fungal communities within the human microbiome can not only compromise health and contribute to health gain but can also work in an insidious partnership with ‘bad’ bacteria to foil even the most aggressive medications and render useless our efforts at dietary control.
While gut bacteria are largely established at birth, the fungal community responds rapidly to dietary and lifestyle changes. Taking steps to create a healthy, balanced mycobiome helps create balance in the overall microbiome and your entire body. But you just can’t pour in more probiotics – they wont work properly without a smooth running mycobiome.
The good news is that by making a few dietary changes – like replacing sugary refined carbs with complex ones and adding some mycobiome balancing herbs and spices to your meals – you can quickly begin to reset your mycobiome and your whole microbiome.
This is also good news for those who develop candida overgrowth leading to vaginal thrush, bladder infections and other symptoms. Our skin and internal organs play host to bacteria that is both beneficial and not, so it’s a delicate balance. One probiotic that appears to have an effect on reducing the incidence of fungal overgrowth is Saccharomyces Boulardii.
Dr G. has simplified doing this in just 10 easy, and delicious steps you can take today to start remaking your mycobiome, for better digestion, more energy, and overall wellness.
- FOLLOW THE 3 – INGREDIENT RULE
Choose packaged foods that contain no more than 3 whole ingredients. Buy 100 % whole grain pasta or a can of beans with nothing added to it.
- START YOUR DAY WITH TURMERIC
Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can also break down harmful biofilms in your gut. Bio-whats? Intestinal fungi working in concert with not-so-nice gut bacteria form sticky biofilms that are a lot like plaque on your teeth.
‘These biofilms coat the lining of your digestive tract, so that harmful fungi and bacterial microbes are protected from the body’s immune system. Breaking down biofilms fosters better overall gut health and allows the healthy bacteria to thrive.’ Explains Dr G.
Sprinkle Turmeric into scrambled eggs, or tofu, along with veggies for a great breakfast. Adding some freshly ground black pepper will help to enhance the turmeric’s absorption.
- POUR ON THAT EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Olive oil, coconut oil and other plant oils are both satisfying and help combat candida, one of the not – so – friendly fungi in our microbiome. Keep a bottle at hand but do store away from heat or light for the oil to retain its benefits. Make a batch of dressings to use throughout the week mixing it with apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice, a little salt and some favourite dried herbs and spices.
- MAKE SALMON A WEEKNIGHT REGULAR
Wild salmon is not only a great source of satiating protein but it’s omega-3’s also help foster a healthy microbiome by creating an environment that’s inhospitable to certain kinds of yeasts – aka some of the not – so -fun fungi!
- YES, APPLE CIDER VINEGAR DOES WORK!
Apple cider vinegar – choose the one with the ‘Mother’ – has been touted for all kinds of health benefits but did you know it can help break down harmful biofilms in you gut? You don’t have to drink it. Just add a splash to your salads or use it to dress vegetables.
- NUTS & CROUTONS
Ditch the refined grains in croutons and toss some nuts on top of salads and vegetables to add some crunch and good – for – you fibre, fat and micronutrients. Pistachios, in particular, have been demonstrated to have positive effects on the microbiome.
- EAT YOUR BROCCOLI
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, rocket, Brussel sprouts, all contain a beneficial compound called isothiocyanates that inhibit unfriendly fungi in your microbiome. Aim to eat a serving of cruciferous vegetables every day to keep the bad fungi away!
- GET SWEET ON POTATOES
Help the beneficial bacteria in your body thrive by eating resistant starch and fibre with every meal. Resistant starches – which are found in plant foods like sweet potatoes, legumes and whole grains – are not digested in the large intestine but instead pass through to the small intestine, where they ferment, creating food for the good bacteria in the gut.
Dr G. calls plant foods with resistant starch and fibre ‘the ideal prebiotic health food for the bacteria that monitor and control fungal growth.’
Sweet potatoes are a nutritious and a delicious way to keep those good bugs well fed. Toss 2’’ chunks of sweet potatoes with enough oil to coat and roast on a baking sheet in a 400 degree F oven, tossing once or twice during cooking, until caramelised and fork tender, for about 40 minutes.
- GET IN A PICKLE
Lacto-fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and pickles are great for your microbiome. Be sure to eat them raw as heating kills off the good guys. A spoonful of pickled vegetables is easy to add to a salad.
- MAKE A KEFIR SMOOTHIE
You already know that yoghurt is live, with active cultures is good for you but its drinkable cousin, kefir is great too. Choose an unsweetened variety if buying a commercial product as any sugars will only feed the ‘bad guys’ – look out for a sugar free coconut or almond alternative.
I have covered prebiotics and probiotics in a previous article, but hopefully this article will also increase awareness of our mycobiome, and the role fungi play with our bacteria in their synergistic relationship to the whole microbiome.