Did you know rotating food seasonally improves immunity and microbiome diversity?

People often get into a rut eating the same foods over and over again all year round. Unfortunately, they may not realize this limits gut diversity and negatively impacts vitality and immunity.

I’ll get deeper into that in a moment. But first, let’s figure out why someone may eat the same food without ever changing the menu.

Firstly, they may think the food they are eating is healthy, so they eat a lot of it.

Any nutritional science study that comes out citing the benefits of a said food (whatever it is), and that person will incorporate an abundance of it into their daily diet because it’s “rich in fiber, vitamin c, antioxidants, glucosinolates, polyphenols, blah, blah, blah, blah…”

Broccoli for example, became a main staple in many households during the 1970’s and 1980’s when it was touted as a “cancer fighter” due to glucosinolates which the body converts into substances that fight cancer.

BUT the bad news is, even though it is available in stores year-round, broccoli is a cold-weather crop. That lets us know that the spring and fall seasons are the BEST times of the year to eat broccoli.

Unfortunately, you would never know that because you can purchase a head of broccoli at any time of year in almost every store around the globe.

Which brings me to the second reason why someone may eat broccoli, or any other food, over and over again – it’s readily available everywhere regardless of its growing season because food is shipped from all around the world.

That’s a BIG problem!

Internally, you have a microbiome that is potentially loaded with millions of bacteria that are thriving in your gut. Those bacteria need to eat, just like you do. They need a diverse and changing diet to feed a wider variety of your internal populations.

The human populations that have the most diverse bacteria in their microbiome, also have the strongest immune systems and the least trouble fighting diseases.

Here’s some hard science for you:

“Contact with differing microbial compositions in the gut can affect the differentiation and subsequent repertoire of antibodies produced from B cells; diversity in the gut microbiota can regulate levels of IgE. Early exposure to ubiquitous microorganisms can lead to increased microbiota diversity and increased immune system efficacy against diseases.”[1] 

BUT, if you are stuck in a rut, eating the same food all year round, without rotating or changing your diet as the seasons change, you will be feeding your gut bacteria a limited selection of food, limiting diversity, and inhibiting your own health and vitality.

Here’s another example from a larger perspective.

The earth also has a microbiome. It’s called soil. The earth’s microbiome is brimming with bacterial diversity that keeps it healthy.

”In a single gram of soil, there can be billions of bacteria. There are an estimated 60,000 different bacteria species, most which have yet to be even named, and each has its own particular roles and capabilities.”[2]

There are decomposers, nitrogen fixers, disease suppressors, aerobes and anaerobes, actinobacteria, sulfur oxidizers, and more.

The various populations of soil bacteria change rapidly depending on moisture, time of year, type of crops, mulching, and fertilizers (manure, decomposing animals and plant matter).

When we plant ONE crop into a field, as we do with monocropping, it literally depletes soil diversity. This is the case with BIG Ag corporations that plant and harvest monocrops: soy, corn, wheat, broccoli, etc.

Rows and rows of ONE crop without diversity destroys soil diversity.

This contributes to more disease on the plants and in the soil, and increases the need for more pesticides, and fertilizers.

It’s extremely unhealthy.

You may think that adding millions of probiotic bacteria back into the soil (or into your gut) fixes the problem, but that’s not the way it works.

Here’s what the soil scientists have to say about that:

“Though largely unaffected by cultivation, bacteria populations are depressed by dry conditions, acidity, salinity, soil compaction and lack of organic matter. Except in the case of certain seed inoculations, it is very difficult to build desirable populations of bacteria just by adding them to the soil. If populations of soil bacteria are low, it is probably because conditions are unfavorable, so any new additions are likely to suffer the same fate.”[3]

Basically, adding bacteria back into unhealthy soil will NOT improve soil conditions, just like adding probiotics into your diet will NOT improve the health of your gut, if your microbiome remains unhealthy.

So, what can you do?

Shop at Your Local Farmer’s Market

You can get to know your what’s local and seasonal to you, and what is growing during each season by going to a farmer’s market – a true farmer’s market cannot grow anything that is NOT seasonal.

  • Seasonal eating means consuming foods that are picked or harvested at the same time of year they come to market.
  • Local eating means consuming foods grown near the place they are sold, usually within 150-200 miles.

Something to keep in mind is that Local food is always seasonal.

Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Joining a CSA is an excellent way to support your microbiome AND save money on food bills. I cover that in my book, Health is Wealth – Make a Delicious Investment in You

If you buy directly into a farm share, the local farms in your area will naturally and organically bring to market (or directly to your share) what is available at each time of the year when it is ripe.

I’ve been a member of CSA’s for the past 25 years and I couldn’t imagine life without connection to my local farmers. And, especially now with the food supply being tampered with on so many levels, it’s wise to get to know your farmers.

You can find local farms and connect directly with them here: FarmMatch

 Nosh on Wild Plants and Herbs

This is one of my favorite ways to improve microbiome diversity.

Take a botany class or get with your local herbalist for an herb walk.

You will be giving your microbiome something new and exciting that is NOT available at your local grocery store or farm.

Wild foods are a wonderful addition to your diet.

Bottom line… remember to rotate your foods so your microbiome doesn’t become a barren wasteland, like Big Ag has done to millions of acres of the earth’s soil.

If you need more guidance and support, watch my classes on Seasonal and Local Eating inside my Health is Wealth Community. You will connect with like-minded health-oriented people on a journey to promote better health for themselves and the world around them.

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7362776/

[2] https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/41642/Soil_bacteria.pdf

[3] https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/41642/Soil_bacteria.pdf