7 Ways to Improve Your Microbiome in 2017
Now that the holidays are over and a new year beckons it's time to start afresh and get your health back on track. In this regard, caring for your gut microbiome should be top of your list in 2017.
To help you out we’ve compiled a list of 7 tips to care for your microbiome in 2017.
1. Food is key. Eat the right stuff and kick the sugar habit.
Your gut microbiome responds directly to what you eat. When you provide your gut microbiome with optimum nutrients you will receive the maximum benefits. The key to this is high-fiber and low sugar. The more varied your diet is, the more flexible your microbiome will become, allowing for the occasional dessert.
- Remove sugar and processed food from your diet. These foods are absorbed quickly by your small intestine, with no help from your gut microbiome. That means that the microbes go hungry and start snacking on the protective mucus lining of your gut. This exposes the cells underneath to attack and causes leaky gut.
- Get your carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber and prebiotics that nourish your gut microbes. In turn your gut microbiome ferments these fibers and turns them into healthy metabolites (postbiotics) such as the short chain fatty acid butyrate.
- Incorporate fermented foods into your diet. Fermented foods seed your gut with healthy bacteria. Eat things like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, pickles and yoghurt (not all at the same time!).
2. Support your gut flora with a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Nearly everyone can benefit from taking a good quality probiotic supplement. Probiotics help maintain your gut’s ecosystem as well as that of your airway (respiratory tract) and urogenital tract. If you need to take an antibiotic, take a probiotic supplement to help maintain the diversity of your gut flora. Make sure to take them away from each antibiotic dose. Look for probiotics that deliver 20-50 billion live organisms per dose and contain a good variety of different strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Learn more about probiotics here.
3. Get a healthy dose of prebiotics.
While you’re eating all those extra leafy greens to support your gut microbiome, consider adding in a good prebiotic. Prebiotics are a special type of fiber that pass through the stomach and feed the good bacteria that live in your large intestine. It can be difficult to get enough prebiotics from food, and they’re great for maximizing your probiotics’ benefits. Learn more about prebiotics here.
4. Support your digestion.
Unless you know you for certain that you have high stomach acid, stop taking antacids. Many people have low stomach acid but think they have too much and take antacids to combat the symptoms. Supplementing with a digestive enzyme instead can help you digest your food better and get rid of symptoms, such as heartburn, gas and bloating. The amino acid glutamine can also help to restore and maintain your digestive tract and support digestion.
5. Ditch the hand sanitizer.
Unless you’re working somewhere that requires frequent hand sanitization, such as a hospital, hand sanitizer simply isn’t necessary. You’re limiting your exposure to a wide variety of microbes that live in your gut and on your skin and whose presence is beneficial to for your immune system. Soap does the job!
6. Head outside.
One of the best and most enjoyable ways to increase your microbial exposure is to head into nature and get a little dirty! Do some gardening, plant some flowers, mow your lawn or do anything that will connect you and your immune system with the trillions of microbes in the soil. There’s no need to go crazy, rolling in the mud. Just get your hands dirty. This is particularly important for young children whose microbiome is still developing.
Your gut is your second brain. There are millions of nerve connections there and your gut microbiome makes chemicals that affect your brain. If your microbiome is out of balance it can make you feel tired, anxious or depressed. So take the time now and again to stop and smell the roses (and maybe stick your fingers in the dirt they are planted in!).
As with everything in life, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to your microbiome. Find the things that work for you and incorporate them into your everyday life.