Take Care of Your Gut Microbiome
Edited by Donna, Maria Quinney, Doug Collins, Alma
What is The Human Microbiome And Why Is It Important?
The gut microbiome is part of the human microbiome, which is part of what is called the microbial self. This self consists of our protective microbes that live in every single place in the body, and their role is to protect us from fungi, yeast bacteria, viruses and free radical oxygenation. These microbes are an important part of our immune system that is found most abundantly in the gastrointestinal tract, where they interact chemically with hormones, aid with digestion and help keep the mucous membrane and vagus nerve healthy. They are also found in skin or the lungs and the scalp.
These microbiotas are also classified symbionts. These are not part of us, but something that lives on inside of us and connects us to our environment. There are 100 trillion bacteria festering in a healthy way in the human gut alone that creates an ecosystem that tries to keep us in peak physical and mental condition. These microbes also swap DNA with each other, just like the human genome, which means their presence also contributes to human evolution. In order for health to exist in the human body, the microbiome in the gut must be healthy to support this DNA swapping microbiota, or the result is a disease. To get an idea of how important these microbiotas are to your health, consider that the human body is 99% microbes that interact constantly with your environment.
It is important to take care of your microbiome because and imbalance causes a condition called dysbiosis, which leads to many chronic health disorders such as:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Digestive Problems
- Environmental sensitivities
- Foggy brain syndrome
- Liver Disease
- Lowered Immune System
- Heart Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Leaky gut Syndrome
- Metabolic Disorders
- Mood disorders
- Yeast infections
In general, a depleted gut microbiome results in oxidative stress in every area of the body and makes you more vulnerable to disease because these gut microbial influence so many biochemical reactions, including the body's ability to dispose of fat, digest nutrients and regulate hormones like adrenalin and insulin.
The Causes of a Microbiome Imbalance
The health of your microbiome is very dependent on your day-to-day activities, reproductive history, genetic disposition, what you eat, the influence of your environment and your behavior in general. Common causes of a microbiome imbalance include:
- Being fed infant formula instead of breast milk as child, thus not allowing your body to seed the bacteria that it needs to protect itself throughout life
- Chronic stress produces hormones that cultivate unhealthy bacteria, lower the immune system and cause you to binge eat junk foods that produce mucous and unhealthy bacteria in your gut
- Using antibacterial soaps, can strip your body of its healthy microbes and leave it vulnerable to infection by yeast
- Cleaning yourself too well, as in taking too many showers or baths can also cause disruptions with the hormonal balance in your gut
- Taking antibiotics and other drugs will interfere with the healthy microbes in your gut
- Eating foods that are highly processed, especially junk food, throw the environment of your gut off balances as the starches and sugar in the food disrupt the production of insulin
- Exposure to harmful chemicals and pollutants that create hormonal disruptions that in turn create mucus and inflammatory reactions that harm the gut microbiome
- Sleep deprivation, which leads hormonal disturbances that can affect the health of your gut microbiome
- Having a Caesarian section, instead of going through with natural childbirth, can cause disturbance in the microbiome that affects the pituitary and other glands
Foods to Avoid To Support A Healthy Gut Environment
Perhaps the biggest favor you can do for your gut microbiome is to stop consuming items that disrupt your natural ecosystem. You will soon be on your way to the healthier gut environment if you make the choice to do the following.
- 1Avoid eating sugar, except for glucose and fructose, which is found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Sugar overworks your pancreas and produces inflammation and hormone reactions that disrupt the natural balance of your microbial environment. Sugar is found in everything so be sure to read labels before you consume anything and be aware that soft drinks, vitamin drinks, and powdered drinks all contain large amounts of sugar.Advertisement
- 2Avoid foods that have a high concentration as fat, as this produces problems in the liver and intestines. Fatty foods to avoid include butter, margarine, ghee, cheese and all dairy products, except for plain yogurt. Plain yogurt has probiotics in it that can help your intestinal flora recover and repopulate your gut.Advertisement
- 3Avoid using any type of artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners contain chemicals that are hormone disruptors that create a further disruption in your intestines. They also cause inflammation, weight gain and insulin spikes in blood sugar in some people. Acceptable sweeteners are honey (a small amount), agave syrup, maple syrup, and stevia. This also means avoiding colas and bottled lemonades and iced teas that are also artificially sweetened.
- 4Avoid consuming refined glutinous grains such as pasta and bread. During the process of the digestion process, these foods produce sugars and alcohols that overwhelm your intestines and help create yeast and inflammation. These foods can also help mucoid plaque to form on your intestinal walls, thus resulting in an inability to absorb nutrients from your food and hunger.
- 5Stay away from starchy white foods such as pasta, potatoes, and white rice. These foods turn immediately into substances that cause a glycemic reaction in your bloodstream and pancreas.
- 6Stay away from bodybuilding supplements and meal replacement drinks that contain whey protein. Whey protein destroys beneficial gut bacteria and converts to insulin-spiking sugar in your blood stream.
Foods That Support Healthy Gut Microbiome
In order to keep your microbiome healthy, it is recommended that you eat foods that are similar to the ones eaten by our Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors. The logic behind this is that our biological systems have not evolved as fast as civilization and that our guts have not yet adapted to eating certain foods. Foods that contain sugars, refined flours and fat and chemicals additives cause all kinds of issues with human digestive and the health of the gut.
To recover your micro biotic flora and keep it healthy it is recommended that you take the following dietary advice, which is based on a diet that is very high in fiber, low in fat and sugar and balanced with sources of high protein and complex carbohydrates.
- 1Eat only fiber heavy, low glycemic grains or legumes such as oats, lentils chia seeds and buckwheat. Eat these instead of the foods made from flour, especially bread and cakes refined flour. Avoid foods like canned beans that contain a lot of sugar and salt. To stay healthy your diet should consist of foods that are at least 70% fiber.
- 2Eat good quality lean protein, such as turkey, chicken fish, beef or pork that has been trimmed of its fat. However, it is key not to eat too much of it as meat consumption can create mucus and inflammatory reactions in the bowel, especially if it is not organic meat. To avoid issues, eat organic, local and try to have only two to four ounces of the meat per meal. This is also a good idea because meat can fester in the large intestine, because it takes so long to digest, causing an imbalance in the gut microbiome.
- 3Seed your gut with healthy bacteria by eating fermented foods. This would include kombucha, yogurt, kefir, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, and prebiotics. These foods contain prebiotics, which is a favorite fuel of microbiota. Make Kimchi to Balance Gut Bacteria in a Vegan Lifestyle is a VisiHow article with an excellent recipe for Kimchi.
- 4Eat complex carbohydrates that are natural sources of healthy bacteria. This includes all vegetables but radishes, leeks, asparagus, jicama, carrots garlic and turmeric are especially beneficial.
Lifestyle Changes Support A Healthy Gut Microbiome
Having a healthy gut microbiome is not just about your diet. You can practice the following additional changes to your diet, which are similar to the ways our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago. This means eating a diet that is high in complex carbohydrates, such as nuts and seeds, dense, fruits and vegetables that have a great deal of roughage such as apples, cherries, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, meat, and cheese. This diet works because they are digested in the large intestine, which helps seed your gut with good bacteria.
Here are some lifestyle changes that you can adapt to further help you develop a healthy microbial environment in your gut
- 1Do not crash diet or limit your calories. Extreme states of starvation cause issues with hormone production and also reduce the efficiency of your immune system. Crash dieting may even cause bad bacteria to take over your gut because you are not eating enough good foods to seed your microbiome every day.
- 2Avoid taking antibiotics whenever you can. This can be unavoidable in this day and age of superbugs, but if you can get by vanquishing a bacterial infection with a natural antibiotic like mashed garlic, oil of oregano or Echinacea then use that. However, if you have to take an antibiotic make sure that you also take a full spectrum prebiotic supplement to help you reseed your gut with the friendly bacteria.
- 3Avoid taking multivitamin supplements in pill form. These types of pills, which contain waxes and fillers, also cause disturbances in the growth of gut flora.
- 4Do not use antibacterial soaps, lotions or dishwashing soaps. These products cause imbalances on the skin that could encourage a growth of yeast or eczema on your skin. Antibacterial soap residue left on your dishes can also cause issues with the balance of bacteria in your gut.
- 5Stop smoking nicotine and recreational drugs. Smoking alters the microbiota in both the lungs and the gut, causing inflammation and illness.
- 6Do some gardening. Handling soil with your bare hands is thought to be good for you because the soil contains microbes that reinforce the health of your own microbial system.
- 7Learn how to manage your stress levels. If you are under continued stress, your body produces too much adrenaline and other hormones, which in turn causes inflammation and reduced immune responses. This can cause weight gain and candida overgrowth.
- 8Spend as much time as possible in natural environments, which allows you to pick up friendly microbes from natural sources. The microbes found in natural settings near water and in forests are natural boosters of your mood and the immune system.
- 9Try your best to stay away from very ill or very depressed individuals. It is possible to pick up microbiota that could populate your own system with the same yeast or bacteria that is making them sick and depressed.
- 10Avoid or move away from places that have indoor air pollution. Residual smoke, bacteria, mold, and other microorganisms can also negatively impact your microbiome. Even the smallest of contaminants can cause issues and cause an imbalance.
- 11Stop taking antacids. Antacids affect the pH balance of your intestinal environment and make it more acidic. You are better off to take a digestive enzyme before you eat to help digest your food, rather than treat it with the aluminum and calcium that is in antacids.
Tips and Tricks
Think of your microbiome as a garden that must be tended to every day in order to keep it healthy, by thinking of food as fuel and lifestyle changes as the actual tending of that inner intestinal garden
- Keep your diet as consistent as possible and avoid really spicy or unusual foods until you feel that your microbiome and health has improved
- Be aware that some healthy bottled waters meant for rehydration and for vitamin supplementation can contain as much 60 grams of sugar, so be sure to read product labels before you consume them
Categories : Health & Wellness
Recent edits by: Doug Collins, Maria Quinney, Donna