What is the Gut Microbiome? How Can I Best Support it?
The gut microbiome is a vast ecosystem of trillions of bacteria and fungi that live within your gastrointestinal tract and have huge influence on your hormones, metabolism, body weight, immune system, appetite & mood!
The health of our digestive system greatly impacts the health of our entire body and these gut bugs regulate many of our bodily functions including creating vitamins & boosting brain function! (There's a reason our gut is referred to as the "second brain!”). And what's so fascinating is that no two microbiomes are the same…just as we are all unique beings, so are our gut microbiomes! With the prevalence of the standard American diet, prescription drugs, toxic chemicals and environmental pollutants, it’s incredibly important that we feed them with care in order to achieve harmony with our hormones!
So How Do I Make My Gut Happy?
There are many ways to prioritize your gut health, so we've included a round-up of some of our top tips to get you started!
Focus on Whole, Fiber-Rich Foods: Fiber is essential for our gut health yet only 5% of Americans consume the recommended daily amount! It can help balance blood sugar levels by slowing down our digestion; one of the reasons it's beneficial to add fiber to meals that include high glycemic foods like white bread, pasta, refined grains & sugar! Eating enough fiber also helps you to stay fuller for longer, aids in regular bowel movements and acts like a broom to sweep your intestines & colon of the buildup of bad bacteria! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends approximately 25 grams per day for women & 38 grams per day for men. So what does this look like?
1/2 avocado (7 g) + 1 cup raspberries (8 g) + 1 tablespoon chia seeds (5 g) + 1/2 cup black beans (8 g) = 28 grams!
Try incorporating these fiber-rich foods into your meals in simple ways like throwing avocado on top of a salad, blending the chia seeds into a smoothie, mixing black beans into a burrito bowl or enjoying a cup of raspberries at breakfast or for dessert!
Include Fermented Foods: In addition to eating more fiber, try adding in natural probiotics via fermented foods which contain good bacteria which helps the gut produce molecules that can fight inflammation! Some of our favorites: sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, tempeh, miso, unsweetened coconut yogurt! Tip: try a great starter sauerkraut likeFarmhouse Culture served with grass-fed bratwurst like this one!
Reduce Inflammatory Foods: This includes highly processed or packaged foods, refined grains (especially wheat), processed sugars, cheap oils like canola, soybean & peanut, and factory farmed meats and conventional dairy that have been shot up with synthetic hormones and antibiotics. Choose grass-fed beef, organic chicken and organic dairy whenever possible!
Take a Probiotic Supplement: Probiotics are the bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. Did you know that 80% of your immune system is actually located in your gut? So it makes sense that we're much more likely to catch the flu after a weekend of late nights and fast food! By adding a reliable probiotic into your daily routine, you can reap the benefits of a stronger immune system, improved digestion, increased energy from vitamin B12 production, healthier, glowing skin & weight loss support. We also suggest working with a functional medicine doctor to determine which probiotics work best for your unique body as some people require deeper gut healing & specific formulations.
One of our favorites? Dr Axe probiotics.
Stress Less & Sleep More: Acute or long term physical and psychological stress (breaking a bone, going through a divorce, switching careers, prolonged lack of sleep) triggers a chain reaction in the body, including the production of cortisol "stress" hormones which can trigger gastric distress like severe constipation and bloating! As Dr. Mark Hyman says, "your gut flora listens to and becomes influenced by your thoughts and feelings. So be sure to get 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep and remember to practice your favorite stress reduction activities daily. This can be deep belly breathing, meditation, therapy, or yoga. Whatever you like to do to relax." Some. of our favorite sleep tips: try a CBD tincture like this one (use code “BALANCE” for 20% off), listen to a guided meditation & turn off all electronics at least 30-60 mins before sleep!
At the end of the day, the health of our gut = the health of our entire bodies so think about 1-2 small action steps you can take this week to make it a priority!