Good genes will only add an extra five years to your life. Smoking will reduce your life expectancy by up to ten years. The intestine is our principal anti-aging organ. Roughly, around the age of 70, our intestinal microbes start to reduce and there are fewer good bacteria living in the gut.
Those people, however, who in their younger years had an above-average diversity of microbiota, experience a far less significant reduction. It is, therefore, extremely important that over the course of our lives we pay attention to and ensure that our intestinal balance remains correct.
Importantly, plant-based proteins and fibre convert into short-chain fatty acids which are the main source of energy for the cells lining the colon, stimulating the blood circulation, protecting against pathogens and regulating metabolic, endocrine and immune functions. When our intestinal microorganisms are balanced our long-term blood sugar levels are regulated and our memory function is improved. Studies on depression have also revealed that gut microbiota, through the production of Serotonin and Dopamine, can send signals via the stomach lining to the brain, assisting in the management of stress and anxiety.
Fresh, natural, nutrient dense foods combined with high quality fat and protein sources are incredibly beneficial to our intestinal bacteria.
Rather than fast-food, ready-made meals and sugary products, the gut favours fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir and sauerkraut which are rich in probiotics.
A healthy intestinal microbiota can produce anti-aging substances such as hyaluronic acid, ceramide, lactic acid, antioxidants and even UV protection for the skin.
It is not our eating habits alone, however, that effect the gut and its inhabitants. Movement and exercise enhance butyrate-producing bacteria which can eventually lead to a lower body mass index and a better metabolism.
The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends 30g of Fibre per day, which is vital for the human intestine and its bacteria, however in reality, according to the National Consumption Study II, in Germany 75% of women and 68% of men do not manage to achieve this.
Consuming more than 60g of fibre per day supports not only the immune system but can also be beneficial for the prevention of cancer. Foods containing Rye can be a valuable contribution to a fibre-rich diet. The soluble fibre in rye soaks up water like a sponge and accelerates intestinal transit. Bacteria in the colon converts to short-chain fatty acids, through which the stool becomes softer whilst increasing in volume, movement is stimulated thereby facilitating the regular emptying of the bowels.
The Glycaemic Load (GL) of rye is under 10, meaning that rye has very little effect on the blood sugar levels, a similar effect to that of salads and certain vegetables.
Wholegrain rye bread lies in the middle area of GL at around 20: white bread, however, has a GL score of 38.8. Even though the GL of wholegrain bread is only relatively low, Swedish scientists have proved that the consumption of rye reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes because it stimulates satiety thereby reducing appetite. American scientists from the National University of Health Science attribute this to the high fibre content found in rye which slows down digestion, thereby causing blood sugar levels to rise less quickly. The resulting low insulin level, which is an important factor in the breakdown and storage of fat, means that wholegrain rye products can also assist with weight loss.