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 are 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 microbiota are also classified symbiontes. This means 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 these DNA -swapping microbiota, or the result is disease. To get an idea of how important these microbiota 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 lends 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 micro biome results in oxidative stress in every area of the body and makes you more vulnerable to disease because these gut microbia 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 mucus 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 micro biome
- 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 micro biome that affect 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 its natural ecosystem. You will soon be on your way to healthier gut environment if you make the choice to do the following.
- 1Sugar 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.Avoid eating sugar, except for glucose and fructose, which is found naturally in fruits and vegetables.
- 2Fatty 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.Avoid foods that have a high concentration as fat, as this produces problems in the liver and intestines.
- 3Artificial 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.Avoid using any type of artificial sweeteners.
- 4During the process of digestion process, these foods produce sugars and alcohols that overwhelm your intestines and help create yeast and inflammation. These foods can also help mucoid plaques to form on your intestinal walls, thus resulting in an inability to absorb nutrients from your food and hunger.Avoid consuming refined glutinous grains such as pasta and bread.
- 5These foods turn immediately into substances that cause a glycemic reaction in your bloodstream and pancreas.Stay away from starchy white foods such as pasta, potatoes and white rice.
- 6Whey protein destroys beneficial gut bacteria and converts to insulin-spiking sugar in your blood stream.Stay away from bodybuilding supplements and meal replacement drinks that contain whey protein.
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 microbiotic flora and keep it healthy it is recommended that you take the following dietary advice, which is based on diet that is very high in fiber, low in fat and sugar and balanced with sources of high protein and complex carbohydrates.
- 1Eat these instead of the foods made from flour, especially breads 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.Eat only fiber heavy, low glycemic grains or legumes such as oats, lentils chia seeds and buckwheat.
- 2However, 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 micro biomeEat good quality lean protein, such as turkey, chicken fish, beef or pork that has been trimmed of its fat.
- 3This would include kombucha, yogurt, kefir, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut and prebiotics. These foods contain prebiotics, which is a favorite fuel of microbiotia.Seed your gut with healthy bacteria by eating fermented foods.
- 4This includes all vegetables but radishes, leeks, asparagus, jicama, carrots garlic and turmeric are especially beneficial.Eat complex carbohydrates that are natural sources of healthy bacteria.
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 and cabbage and 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 adept to further help you develop a healthy microbial environment in your gut
- 1Extreme 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.Do not crash diet or limit your calories.
- 2This 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.Avoid taking antibiotics whenever you can.
- 3These types of pills, which contain waxes and fillers, also cause disturbances in the growth of gut flora.Avoid take multivitamin supplements in pill form.
- 4These 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.Do not use antibacterial soaps, lotions or dishwashing soaps.
- 5Smoking alters the microbiota in both the lungs and the gut, causing inflammation and illness.Stop smoking nicotine and recreational drugs.
- 6Handling 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.Do some gardening.
- 7If you are under continued stress, your body produces too much adrenalin and other hormones, which in turn causes inflammation and reduced immune responses. This can cause weight gain and candida overgrowth.Learn how to manage your stress levels.
- 8The microbes found in natural settings near water and in forests are natural boosters of your mood and the immune system.Spend as much time as possible in natural environments, which allows you to pick up friendly microbes from natural sources.
- 9It 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.Try your best to stay away from very ill or very depressed individuals.
- 10Residual smoke, bacteria mold and other microorganisms can also negatively impact your microbiome. Even the smallest of contaminates can cause issues and cause an imbalance.Avoid or move away from places that have indoor air pollution.
- 11Antacids 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.Stop taking antacids.
Tips and Tricks
Think o 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
Recent edits by: Doug Collins, Maria Quinney, Donna