Trust us. You want a healthy gut microbiome if you want to feel your best. Our gut influences our overall health perhaps more than anything else (aside from our brain function – more on that with the Gut-Brain axis).
I’m also sure you’ve at some point felt bloated, had diarrhea, nausea or heartburn (or even unexplained cravings), and then those lead to overeating, not feeling confident in your body, not wanting to workout, trouble sleeping, and so on.
So what should we pay attention to most when it comes to having better gut health and a more balanced gut microbiome? Here are our top 5 key factors when it comes to having a healthier gut microbiome (aka optimal gut health)…
This goes for how we react throughout our day to little stressors, and all the way up to Traumatic Brain Injuries, depression and anxiety. Our stress levels greatly impact our gut’s functioning where if we are in a stressed state, our brain will not communicate to the gut to release specific digestive enzymes, therefore causing bloating, acid reflux, and constipation. We have also learned that if we are in an unregulated (sympathetic) state postprandial (right after a meal), your risk for cardiovascular disease increases, likely due to not being able to digest and absorb what you just ate. Not to mention if this is done chronically over time, it leads to leaky gut, which then leads to immune dysfunction and autoimmune issues. Learn what your triggers are, and set those daily boundaries.
What We Eat
Studies show that a diet consistent in probiotic-rich foods (consumed daily and multiple times a day) allows for a bigger diversity of microbiota in the gut, which we know is a key factor in a healthy microbiome. Now some need to add these in slowly over time, and some can handle more – tune in to your body to see what it needs. This also goes for plant fibers too! Many people benefit from having a variety of fibrous foods at each meal (veggies, fruit, nuts/seeds, some grains and legumes). We also know that consuming sugar, artificial sugars, alcohol, and seed oils can start to feed the bad bacteria in the gut, as well as break down the gut walls. Both in which if done consistently over time, will lead to gut dysbiosis (perhaps IBS/IBD in some), and/or eventual illness of many kinds.
What you touch, who you shake hands with (or kiss), what products and surfaces (including lotions, cleaning products, etc) come in contact with, AND if you own a pet or not, all influences your gut microbiome! In a perfect world, we’d own a dog, get our hands and feet in the dirt daily, and keep to all natural products that don’t contain chemicals that totally kill all the bacteria. If you don’t check all those boxes, not to fear, slowly become aware of your environment and what helps you feeling your best, and what things you may need to eliminate (like chemical rich cleaners or too much hand sanitization), and what to add in (spending time with animals, or getting outside more).
Without adequate and quality sleep, our body doesn’t have a chance to rest and repair. This goes back to the first category of “stress” since if we don’t get enough sleep, our body will be under more stress. This not only makes it harder for us to make better decisions when it comes to our health, but it also disrupts the gut by putting more on the immune system. If you didn’t know, 70% of our immune system lives in our gut! So if you find yourself being sick often, let’s really prioritize sleep and gut health! Start with seeing what a good bedtime routine looks like for you in order to fall asleep and stay asleep, then work to get your bedtimes as consistent as possible.
This goes for a few medications. Antibiotics for sure should be avoided unless totally and completely necessary. These kill ALL bacteria and leave you with a blank slate and need to repopulate all the microbiota. If you do need to use them, be sure to have plenty of probiotics and prebiotics the following months to do an adequate job repopulating.
We also want to note any other medications like PPI’s/acid blockers, Metformin, NSAIDS, and birth control, just to name a few. So if you are on any of these, reconsider, or be sure to optimize these other categories listed to stack the odds in your favor elsewhere.
What to do…
Take our time and breathe more throughout out day (if this is even hard or doesn’t help, consider any kind of therapy), eat an arrangement of probiotic rich foods (if your body allows), minimize sugars and refined foods, get your hands on some dogs or in the dirt, prioritize sleep, and avoid antibiotics and NSAIDS unless completely necessary.
Take one step at time now, we don’t want to overload ourselves and in turn cause more stress! You got this 🙂 And if you want more help on this, book a complimentary Clarity Call with us anytime, we can help!
Huberman Lab Podcast – How to Enhance Your Gut Microbiome for Brain & Overall Health
Chris Kresser – The Gut-Brain Axis