Your health consists of so many factors that some can get brushed under the rug. For instance, how much do you know about your microbiome? Your microbiome is often overlooked, but its health has an extremely significant impact on the way you feel. In fact, some researchers believe that the health of our microbiome is so important that it should be considered an organ itself.Specifically, the microbiome influences your digestion, immunity, and brain function. Let’s first, take a look at your microbiome and explain what it is and how it functions. Then, we’ll explore five ways you can improve your gut’s health. So, what is the microbiome?
The microbiome is a collection of trillions of microbes that live inside the human body. It’s made up of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other tiny organisms that outnumber human cells 10 to 1. The gut microbiome is particularly important for health. This community of microbes helps to break down food, absorb nutrients, and protect the body from harmful bacteria. The gut microbiome also plays a role in mood and mental health. Here are a few main ways your microbiome might effect your health:
Digestion: The microbes in our gut help us break down food and absorb nutrients. They also produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have been linked with a number of health benefits including improved blood sugar control, reduced inflammation and enhanced gut barrier function.
Immunity: Our microbiome helps train our immune system to distinguish between harmless foreign substances (such as pollen) and potential threats (such as harmful bacteria). Some research has even shown that babies born via C-section are more likely to develop allergies and asthma later in life because they miss out on this important “education” during delivery. Additionally, probiotics (live microorganisms that offer health benefits when consumed) have been shown to boost immunity by increasing levels of certain antibodies and white blood cells.
Mental Health: Studies have found that changes in the composition of the gut microbiome can influence mood, stress levels, and cognitive function. These findings suggest that the gut microbiome may be involved in some psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Diet/Body Image: In addition to its effects on the brain, the gut microbiome also appears to play a role in regulating metabolism and body weight. Two things that have also been proven to have connection with mental health. Studies have shown that people who are obese or have diabetes tend to have different compositions of their gut microbiota compared to people who are lean or do not have diabetes. Additionally, altering the composition of the gut microbiota through diet or probiotic supplementation can lead to changes in body weight and fat mass.
Making sure that your gut’s microbiome is healthy is extremely important for your overall health, here’s 5 surefire ways you can improve your gut’s health:
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut contain probiotics that can help balance the bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are live microorganisms that offer numerous health benefits, including improved digestion and reduced inflammation. They can help restore the balance of microbes in your gut when it’s been disturbed by an illness or antibiotic use. Probiotics may also help with other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, and Crohn’s disease. Some research suggests they may even boost your immune system. Probiotic-Rich Foods, like bananas, onions and garlic, can also promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Bone Broth might be less common but it’s rich in collagen, which helps heal the lining of the digestive tract. Collagen also promotes regularity and prevents constipation. Bone broth can be made at home or purchased from a reputable brand. Lastly, you should consume a fair share of green vegetables. Green vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support gut health. They also contain probiotics that feed the good bacteria in your gut. Aim to include greens such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard in your diet on a daily basis.
- Avoid processed foods and sugar! A growing body of evidence suggests that the key to a healthy gut may lie in avoiding processed foods and sugars. A diet rich in processed foods has been linked to an increase in inflammation, which can lead to a host of health problems including gastrointestinal issues. Inflammation is thought to play a role in nearly all chronic diseases, from heart disease and cancer to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. And while there are many factors that contribute to inflammation, diet is one of the most important. Processed foods are loaded with sugar, unhealthy fats, and chemicals that can trigger inflammation. On the other hand, a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods has been shown to promote gut health by fostering the growth of beneficial bacteria. Whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and omega-3-rich fish contain nutrients that help fight inflammation. Sugar also appears to be detrimental to gut health. Consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance, both of which have been associated with an increased risk of gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. What’s more, sugar feeds bad bacteria in the gut while crowding out good bacteria. This imbalance can lead to dysbiosis, a condition characterized by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Fortunately, eating healthy can drastically increase your gut’s health!
- We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is important for our overall health, but did you know that it can also help improve your gut’s health? There are a number of ways that sleep can benefit your gut. For one, when you sleep, your body is able to better repair and heal itself. This means that if you’re dealing with any sort of gastrointestinal issue, sleeping will give your body the time it needs to heal. In addition, sleep helps reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation has been linked to a number of digestive issues, so by reducing inflammation, you’re also helping to improve your gut health. Finally, getting enough sleep can help regulate your appetite and blood sugar levels. If you’re not well-rested, you’re more likely to make poor food choices and have trouble regulating your blood sugar. Both of these things can lead to digestive problems down the road. So if you want to keep your gut healthy, be sure to get plenty of rest!
- When it comes to gut health, reducing stress levels can have enormous impact. Chronic stress can lead to increased inflammation throughout the body, which can then lead to a variety of gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers, and even Crohn's disease. While there are many different ways to help reduce stress levels, some of the most effective include exercise, meditation, and spending time in nature. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress because it releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting properties. Meditation can also be very helpful in relieving stress by helping you focus on the present moment and letting go of any negative thoughts or worries.
- The link between smoking and gut health is well-established. Smoking irritates the stomach lining, which can lead to inflammation and increased acid production. This can cause symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. In addition, smokers are at higher risk for developing peptic ulcers – open sores that develop on the lining of the stomach or small intestine. Ulcers can be incredibly painful, and if left untreated, they can bleed or even rupture. Smoking also increases your risk of developing pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas that can be extremely painful and potentially life-threatening. Pancreatitis is often caused by heavy alcohol use, but smokers are also at increased risk. Alcohol consumption is another major contributor to gut problems. Like smoking, drinking too much alcohol can irritate the stomach lining and cause inflammation. This can lead to symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. Alcohol abuse is also a major risk factor for developing pancreatitis as well as other serious digestive disorders like cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Your microbiome is an essential part of your health. You may not ever see it or think about it, but you’ll undoubtedly feel it if you don’t treat it right! Make sure to take the rights steps to maintain a healthy microbiome and gut!