Understanding the link between farming, gut microbiome and human health

The gut microbiome is a complex community of trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that live in our intestines. These microbiota play an important role in our overall health, including digestive health, immunity, and mental health. In fact, the microbiome is now best thought of as a virtual organ of the body. Modern farming has depleted our soils of essential microorganisms, but we can still get the good bacteria and nourishment we need by introducing more organic foods and fiber-rich greens back into our diets, and supplementing non organic food with vitamins, minerals and probiotics .

Overall health

Healthy gut bacteria play a vital role in our overall health by helping us digest food, absorb nutrients, and fight off infection. A healthy gut microbiome helps us to maintain a healthy weight, reduce our risk of chronic diseases, and improve our overall well-being. However, when our gut microbiota are out of balance, it can lead to many health problems, including obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and heart disease.


The gut microbiota play a vital role in digestion by helping us break down food and absorb nutrients. They produce enzymes that enable us to digest carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. When our gut microbiome is balanced, we are less likely to experience digestive problems. When our gut microbiota are out of balance we can start experiencing gas, bloating, and or diarrhoea, and eventually more severe digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease, and celiac disease.


A healthy gut microbiome is also vital for immunity. The gut bacteria help train our immune system to respond to infection. They also produce antimicrobial compounds that help to fight off harmful bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for a robust immune system. When our gut microbiome is balanced, we are less likely to get sick. However, when our gut microbiome is out of balance, it can lead to a number of immune problems, including allergies, autoimmune diseases, and asthma.

Mental health

Digestive health directly influences mental health. The bacteria in our gut communicate with our brain through the vagus nerve. This nerve is responsible for sending signals between the gut and the brain. When our gut microbiome is balanced, we are less likely to experience mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. A compromised gut microbiome can lead to several mental health problems. Studies have shown that people with mental health disorders often have different compositions of gut organisms than those without.

How can farming affect our gut microbiome?

Healthy soils are alive with billions of microorganisms that are vital to gut health and nutrient cycling. Intensive farming methods erode the soil of essential nutrients, while pesticides and herbicides destroy billions of the beneficial microorganisms that all life depends on. A decrease in the diversity of microorganisms in soil can make the soil less resilient to pests and diseases, and it can also lead to a decrease in the nutritional value of food. Living on a diet farmed in “dead” soil can lead to an imbalance in the gut microbiome known as dysbiosis.

This is a major public health concern, as dysbiosis has been linked to a number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and mental health disorders.

How can we nurture our gut health?

Diversity plays a significant role in shaping the composition and function of our gut microbiome. Organic food, fermented foods and a balanced diet with lots of roughage can help to promote a diverse and balanced gut microbiome. Excess sugars, processed foods and artificial sweeteners affect our gut bacteria adversely, so eliminating them from our diet is essential to protecting our gut microbiome.

Probiotics in Fermented Foods

Probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial to our gut health. They are abundant in fermented foods such as yoghurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Eating probiotics can help to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in our gut microbiome.

Probiotics in Organic Greens

Eating organic greens is a great way to increase your probiotic intake, as they contain probiotics from healthy soil. It is important to choose fresh, organic greens that have been grown locally to maximize the probiotic content of organic greens. We should also wash the greens gently before eating them to avoid removing any beneficial microorganisms.

Prebiotics in Greens

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibres that are food for the beneficial bacteria in our gut microbiome. Prebiotics are abundant in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Prebiotics can help improve the diversity and function of the gut microbiome.

Processed foods

Processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats, sugar, and salt. They are also low in fibre and nutrients. Eating processed foods can lead to a decline in the diversity of the gut microbiome and an increase in harmful bacteria.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners, often used in processed foods and drinks, alter the composition of the gut microbiome and, ironically, increase the risk of developing metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.


When we eat sugar, the bacteria in our gut ferment it, producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are beneficial for gut health, but too much sugar can lead to an overproduction of SCFAs. Excessive sugar in our diets can damage the gut lining and feed the harmful gut bacteria.

  • Tips to improve our gut health through diet
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Eat fermented foods
  • Supplement our diets with quality probiotics
  • Limit the intake of processed foods and sugary drinks
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners
  • Drink plenty of water

How to gain easier access to organic food

Sourcing organic functional food that is nutrient rich can be fun and less costly than conventional food. There are several ways to make organic food more accessible and affordable:

Shop at local farmers’ markets

Farmers markets are a great place to find fresh, organic produce from local farmers. The food at these markets is often less expensive than organic food at grocery stores.

Supporting these markets is also great for building more equitable local societies.

Grow your own vegetables

If you have the space, growing your own food is a great way to save money and ensure access to fresh, organic produce. Freshly picked food is also more nutritious. Growing your food is a fun and rewarding activity that can bring the family together and teach children about healthy food.

Start a community vegetable garden

You can start a community garden if you don’t have the space to grow your food. Community gardens are a great way to connect with other people interested in growing their food, and they can also be a fun and rewarding experience. activity that can bring the family together and teach children about healthy food.