What is Gut Microbiome & Why Should I Care About It?
Would you believe me if I told you that you are made up of trillions of bacteria? Sounds crazy right?
At any given time, we have more bacteria (in and on us) than we have human cells. How is that for a “did you know?”
Bacteria is found everywhere throughout your body. One very important place it is found however, is in your gut.
The gut’s lining, is covered with microscopic bacteria and organisms which impact your health. Your lifestyle, mood, activity, diet all impact the balance of these microorganisms. It’s this microecosystem that is referred to as your gut microbiome.
What you want, is good bacteria to make up your microbiome.
What are the good bacteria?
Good bacteria contribute to our overall health and well-being. We are continuously discovering the never-ending extent into which these little bacteria are beneficial to us.
Certain strains of bacteria do really beneficial things in our body such as:
- Stimulate the immune system
- Break down food compound
- Help absorb nutrients and amino acids
- Play a role in contributing to reactions in the body that impact weight, mood and digestion
You will find different families of bacteria in different areas in the gut. In the colon you will mainly find anaerobic bacteria you commonly hear such as for Peptostreptococcus, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Clostridium. These “good bacteria” also work to prevent the growth of the “bad bacteria”.
There are many ways to keep your gut microflora strong and thriving, in order to help contribute to better health. Listed below are a few ideas of how to incorporate these into your daily routine.
DID YOU KNOW?
Your gut houses up to 1,000 different species of bacteria?
1. EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
I know you hear this often, but we all need reminders from time to time. The bacteria in your gut love the fibres in fruits and vegetables. They use the fibre as a source of energy and it helps them grow strong, which in turn helps keep us strong.
Here are some tips to follow:
- Consider keeping some, if not all, skin on fruits and vegetables because this is a great source of fibre for your gut.
- Fermented foods such as tempeh and sauerkraut are great for your gut bacteria as well. Fermented foods are a bonus because they contain both prebiotics and probiotics.
- Adding a new fruit or vegetable to your diet may also help maintain diversity of your gut microflora.
2. LIMIT STRESS
I know this is easier said than done, but it is incredibly important. Stress wreaks havoc on your intestinal tract.
Constantly being in a state of stress will cause long term damage all over your body, but especially in your gut. This is important because the bacteria in your gut need a healthy environment to thrive.
So how do you mitigate the sometimes-unavoidable effects of stress? When you find yourself overwhelmed by daily stressors in life:
- Take a moment to relax and take a deep breath. Stop for 2 minutes to close your eyes, breathe in for a count of five, and then out for another count of five.
- Take adaptogens that work to limit your stress, help you come to balance with your mind and body. Products like Maca, Reishi, and Ashwagandha work great.
- Take stress support supplements with your collagen. Enhanced Collagen Relax offers a blend of collagen (which helps gut health) in combination with L-Theanine (the stress supplement).
3. GET OUTSIDE AND GET DIRTY
Using antibacterial products consistently will also damage your microbiome. This means it will destroy the bad bacteria and the good bacteria that keep us healthy.
It is also especially important that our immune system does get exposed to bad bacteria. This exposure is vital for our body's ability to build up immunity to these not-so-friendly microbes. It allows our immune system to defend itself more readily in future exposures to these strains. Our bodies are brilliant and will constantly build immunity to bad bacteria and protect us more often than we realize. It is important to have this immunity strong for times when we really need it. When we use antibacterial products often, we kill off beneficial bacteria, and do not provide our immune system with enough exposure to bad bacteria. Without this exposure to bad bacteria, our immune system cannot build up the correct resistance - sometimes it is okay to get a little dirty!
If you want to maintain a healthy microflora the true trick is to keep it simple! Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, work on reducing stress. Next time you are at the park with your children, try playing with them in the sandbox!
Note: Kids should be taking probiotics daily, get their microbiome off to a healthy head start.
Cheers to good health! Amy Wilson