In part one, we explored the basics of the microbiome, why gut health matters and how it is linked to our health. In today’s post, we’ll further explore the complexities of the microbiome, and look at how to support gut health through foods and lifestyle measures.
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How Gut Health is Linked to our Microbiome
Because bacteria prefer to colonize in our guts, a large majority of the microbiome exists in that area. The importance of a healthy gut cannot be overemphasized; poor gut health directly leads to autoimmune issues, leaky gut syndrome, dementia, arthritis, heart disease, and an overall decrease in well-being.
The microbiome is a fluid system — it flourishes when we make honoring nutrition choices, and halts with high-stress levels, poor lifestyle and nutrition choices, and environmental toxins.
How to Support Gut Health
Your diet is the gateway to health, especially gut health. It is through healthy food that you establish your microbiome and foster good bacteria — the more a healthy diet is supported, the more healthy digestion, metabolism, and body weight thrive.
- Foods that disrupt gut health:
- Processed foods
- Processed and refined oils (canola, soybean, corn, etc)
- Refined carbohydrates
- Added Sugars
- Hydrogenated and trans-fats
- Foods that support gut health:
- Prebiotics (fresh vegetables, specifically beets, carrots, broccoli, kale, cabbage, etc)
- Probiotics (kefir, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, etc)
- Fresh fruits
- Pasture-raised meat, and wild-caught fish
- Healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil)
Aside from your diet, there are other measures you can take to support a strong and thriving microbiome, including:
Address your lifestyle - Make sure you’re getting plenty of movement and exercise, and work to lower your stress levels. Stress impacts the immune system and lowers its ability to fight off toxins, bad bacteria, and viruses.
Avoid antibiotics - Modern medicine is amazing, and antibiotics play a role in our health, but they’ve been prescribed for over 80 years now and have the ability to wipe out good bacteria. This not only affects the immune system, but it puts us at risk for allergies and other diseases. Use antibiotics only when they are needed because we live in an age where they’re overprescribed and miscalculated.
When Your Microbiome Is Unbalanced
When good bacteria is minimal, disease states and health issues surface. Because it is our internal ecosystem, when the environment is impacted, so are the microbes that inhabit it.
Inflammation Is the Origin of Most Health Issues.
Let that absorb and sink in — it is inflammation at the root of what you’re suffering from. A lifestyle that promotes inflammation balance protects your brain, is mood-enhancing, and balances hormones. Unbalanced gut health is related to many disease states, such as:
Brain disorders (dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's) - Cognitive decline is often triggered by systemic inflammation, compared to a balanced inflammation lifestyle that boasts improved memory, brain health, and overall longevity. There is even neuro-metabolic and neurochemical pathways that link directly to the digestive tract, sending and receiving messages both to and from the brain.
Autoimmune disease - These disorders cultivate when the body begins to attack healthy processes from an overactive immune system. Gut permeability opens, and leaky gut occurs which can spawn an autoimmune cycle.
Mood disturbances (anxiety and depression) - We touched on the gut-brain connection in brain disorders, but it can affect your mental state through the foods you consume. A poor diet directly affects your microbiome and neural activity, thus, impacting your mood, energy, and stress levels.
Joint pain - Studies have found that a healthier digestive tract supports healthy joints. It was also found that patients with arthritis have lower levels of beneficial bacteria, while other harmful strains are present.
Allergies - There are specific beneficial bacteria strains that diminish allergy effects both related to food allergies and infections involved in the respiratory tract.
Support your microbiome and watch it thrive when you address the foods that both harm and support it, while making conscious decisions in your lifestyle to foster healthy colonization. We looked at ways the microbiota can become unbalanced and how inflammation impacts your immune health, thus, your gut health.
The emerging field of bacteria is discovering how intricate and vast the microbiome is, and how it is linked to our overall wellness. To find health, seek out digestive wellness.
How will you use your nutrition to support your gut health? Comment your strategies below!
Russell Mariani is a Health Educator, Nutrition Counselor and Digestive Wellness expert. With Healing Digestive Illness, Russell Mariani and his team provide invaluable insight on digestive wellness. He has helped thousands regain their health and well-being. Indeed, you can become more proactive in your self-care and find relief from common, yet debilitating digestive illnesses. His book, Healing Digestive Illness, can be found exclusively at www.healingdigestiveillness.com.