Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Wisdom & Diet

Wisdom, also known as sapience or sagacity, is the capacity to think and act using knowledge, experience, insight, understanding, and common sense.  Its characteristics include self-knowledge, compassion, and unbiased judgment.  Wisdom is associated with self-awareness, reflective thinking, positive emotions, empathy, and prosocial behavior.

Wisdom is also associated with good physical and mental health.  In a study examining the relationship between wisdom and the gut microbiome, 184 adults (28-97 years) completed surveys on wisdom, compassion, and social support and engagement.  Researchers also collected fecal samples and found that “higher levels of wisdom, compassion, social support, and social engagement were associated with greater phylogenetic richness and diversity of the gut microbiome.”

The microbiome gut-brain-axis is the bidirectional signaling between the gastrointestinal system and the brain.  In another study comparing the diets of wild and domesticated animals, researchers discovered that a change in diet begins to impact the gut microbiome within 24 hours.  Because the microbiome is so sensitive to lifestyle changes, improvements in diet can enhance our health. 

Takeaway:  Strong gut health requires the right balance of microorganisms in the digestive tract.  To improve gut health and promote the development of wisdom:

  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables,
  • Eat prebiotic fiber, including bananas, whole grains, onions, and garlic,
  • Eat fermented foods, including kefir, kombucha, miso, and sauerkraut,
  • Take a probiotic,
  • Eat less sugar and sweeteners,
  • Reduce stress, and
  • Get sufficient sleep and exercise.

Sources

Wisdom, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom.

Tanya T. Nguyen, et al., Association of Loneliness and Wisdom with Gut Microbial Diversity and Composition: An Exploratory Study, Frontiers in Psychiatry, Mar 25, 2021, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.648475/full.

Clea Simon, In the Gut Microbiome, at Least, it’s Nurture, not Nature, The Harvard Gazette, Mar 23, 2021, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2021/03/new-study-shows-that-diet-has-major-impact-on-gut-biomes/.

Jayne Leonard, 10 Ways to Improve Gut Health, Medical News Today, May 28, 2019, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325293.

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