Gut Health and Service Stations

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Service stations are eye opening places to go if gut health is on your mind.  Having covered a very long section of the M6 yesterday, our bladders failed us and we were forced to stop at one. I was all for just opening the car doors in the car park and weeing between them to avoid having to enter the den of gastric iniquity that is the Service Station. Child no. 3 pointed out that, given the back doors of our car are sliding doors (to say nothing of the other reasons not to pee in a car park), my strategy would leave me rather exposed.

We went in. I felt like some sort of voyeur. As I passed people, lots of people, clutching their fast food packages and cups of fizzy drinks – cheerful, sad, angry, downcast, obese, slim, obese, sallow skinned, obese – I wondered about the state of their microbiomes. I wondered how representative of our society the customers at a service station are at any one moment in time? I wondered how representative the state of their microbiomes is?

For a good varied selection of microbes in our gut (which we now know is crucial for good health), we need a good and varied diet of nourishing food. I have been thinking about the word “nourishing” in the context of food a great deal. About the percentage of food we eat as a family that is nourishing for our microbes and therefore nourishing for our cells – immune cells, muscle cells, mitochondria, brain cells, the single layer of cells that line our gut and form the boundary of the outside of us and the inside of us. What percentage is nourishing us and what percentage is hijacking us?

I am realising that making lasting dietary changes for my family is possibly one of the most influential things I can do in support of our long term physical and mental wellbeing. Which is such a noble thought. Putting it into action on a day to day basis is something else entirely, which frequently leads to rather ignoble thoughts. It is a daily struggle. It is going to take determination and an acceptance that the distance is going to be covered by many small steps not a few impressive leaps. And what did we buy at the service station?  Fresh mango. And Fresh grapes. Oh, er and Minstrels…..