Today I’m sharing with you a subject I have become increasingly passionate about and continue to research and learn more about.
For years, my doctors lectured me on the importance of taking probiotic supplements and I never really gave it much thought. I bought a bottle of probiotic supplements, took a couple, and then left it in the refrigerator until the next time I got a doctor’s lecture...rinse and repeat. It isn’t until recently that I truly discovered the importance our microbiome has on our health. In fact, that is now the first tip I typically provide to anyone who asks for nutrition advice. Start with the microbiome and then go from there.
What is the microbiome, you ask? The microbiome is the community of organisms within our gut and holds 10-100 trillion microbes in our intestines, all unique to each individual person. What makes these microbiota so diverse is a combination of our environment, what we eat, and our genetics. Our gut is involved in just about every process in our body, so it makes sense that when we are careless with what we feed our gut, that our bodies are in disarray. Recent studies have looked into how the diversity (or lack thereof) affects our health, including obesity, cancer, and mental health. Thanks to an increasing amount of processed foods in our diet, it is easier to have an imbalanced gut microbiome, or dysbiosis. Thankfully, it is possible to eat our way back to having a balanced microbiome, restoring any imbalances in other systems in our body.
Here are a few ways you can start restoring your gut health today:
- Fermented foods - Fermented foods contain strains of good bacteria that fight off bad bacteria in your gut. Try adding sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir (plain), and pickles to your daily diet.
- Fresh fruit - Fruits contain flavonoids and resveratrol, antioxidants that are cancer-fighting nutrients
- Fresh vegetables - Add lots of vegetables to every meal and reduce your triglyceride and cholesterol levels, promoting heart health and other body systems.
- Probiotic supplements - It never hurts to have an extra dose of probiotics, especially if you don’t fancy the above fermented foods. If you are having a hard time adjusting to eating sauerkraut regularly, find a high count probiotic supplement. I would highly suggest VSL-3.
- Take a deep breath - Did you know that relaxation can improve your gut? Taking a few moments to take a few deep breaths and reduce stress will create a more habitable environment for good bacteria in your gut and decrease inflammation. You may also consider prayer, meditation, yoga, and anything else that helps you to reduce stress.
- Cut out the sugar and processed foods - Sugar gets processed directly in the small intestine without the help of your microbes, leaving them hungry and forcing them to then feed on cells that line your intestine. If this continues long enough, it can cause Leaky Gut and cause more problems. Sugar is also a catalyst for Candida, a condition that feeds off your intestine and can cause Candida infection. Bottom line- cut it out and your gut will thank you.
- Avoid antibiotics if possible - There are cases where antibiotics are a necessity to treat sickness, but are often times overprescribed. Antibiotics function by removing the bad bacteria, but also removes the good bacteria with it, leaving your gut vulnerable to infection. Over time, certain bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics and will become less and less effective in treating sickness. Ask your doctor for alternative options before taking them.
What are you doing today to restore balance in your microbiome and gut health?
For more information, Dr. Axe is an excellent resource and wrote a very informative post on the importance of the microbiome and how to heal your gut.