Did you know that your gut health plays a major role in how you feel every day, both physically and mentally? And, when your diet and nutrition aren’t up to par, your microbiome suffers.
Unfortunately, many people outside of the health and wellness community have no idea what the microbiome is or why it’s so important. And an unhealthy microbiome contributes to a variety of chronic health issues, such as acne, a weak immune system, autoimmune disease, depression and anxiety…even cancer and much more.
So, supporting your microbiome with the right diet and nutrition is crucial. Here’s a look at how it all ties together, plus what you can do to support your gut health on the day-to-day.
What is the microbiome and why is it so important?
The human microbiome is made up of bacteria that live mainly in the gut. In addition to digesting our food, the microbiome regulates the immune system and produces certain vitamins, including B12, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin K.
The microbiome also protects the body against bad bacteria that cause illness and disease. Autoimmune disorders like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia have been associated with an unhealthy microbiome. These diseases are the result of an accumulation of bad bacteria over time, which causes an abnormal immune response in the body.
How Gut Health Ties in with Diet and Nutrition
- Weight Management: For many folks, maintaining a healthy weight is a constant struggle- even when they lead an active, healthy lifestyle. This could be the result of an unhealthy microbiome. Your body simply can’t absorb nutrients and regulate blood sugar correctly when the microbiome is out of balance.
- When the bad bacteria in your gut outnumber the good, your body can’t absorb the nutrition it needs from food to maintain a healthy weight. Or, you may overeat to compensate for nutrient deficiencies, resulting in weight gain that’s difficult to overcome.
- Insomnia and Chronic Fatigue: The gut produces and regulates many hormones related to the sleep-wake cycle, including serotonin, melatonin, and cortisol. When you aren’t eating the right foods, the gut struggles to produce these hormones at optimal levels, resulting in chronic fatigue, insomnia, inability to focus, and low energy levels.
- Chronic Inflammation: If you are eating a diet that’s full of processed foods, empty carbs, and sugar, your microbiome is struggling. This allows harmful bacteria in your gut to thrive and triggers inflammation throughout the body as an immune response. Over time, chronic inflammation leads to pain and chronic illness.
- Food Sensitivities and Allergies: Food sensitivities and allergies can develop when there aren’t enough healthy bacteria in the gut to digest certain foods.
- Digestive issues: The gut processes food and eliminates waste efficiently when the microbiome is thriving. But, when the microbiome is struggling due to poor diet and nutrition, you may experience digestive issues such as gas, heartburn, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation.
Proactive Steps for a Healthy Microbiome
Here are some proactive steps you can take to support your microbiome and keep your gut healthy.
Eliminate excess waste
Over time, an unhealthy diet can lead to a buildup of excess waste and toxins in the gut. For centuries, colonics hydrotherapy has been used to flush excess waste from the gut to improve digestive function and nutrient absorption.
The functional medicine experts at Rahav Wellness - who offer their colonic treatment in NYC - recommend exploring a colon cleanse, as it gives “the healthy bacteria in your gut a chance to thrive” by providing it with a “fresh start.” In fact, they say that many patients notice an improvement in chronic health issues after just one session.
Optimize your diet to support your gut health.
Once you’ve removed excess waste and toxins from the gut, you’ll need to optimize your diet to help the good bacteria in your gut thrive. That means making the switch to a whole food diet and eliminating empty carbs, unhealthy fats, refined sugar, and processed foods.
Focus on a diet that’s rich in fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Be sure to include lots of high fiber foods, like legumes, leafy greens, fruit, and complex carbs to support digestion.
Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods every day.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that reside in your gut. You should include a variety of different probiotic foods in your diet regularly to ensure that you’re getting all the probiotics you need to keep your microbiome healthy.
Probiotic foods include:
- Pickled vegetables
- Fermented soy
- Sauerkraut and other fermented veggies
Many people overlook the importance of prebiotics, and that’s a big mistake. Prebiotics provide the food probiotics need to thrive. Without prebiotics, your microbiome won’t be strong enough to reproduce or fight off harmful bacteria. You must include both in your diet regularly for good gut health.
Foods that contain prebiotics:
- Rowdy Bars
- Leafy greens
- Onions and garlic
- Tuberous roots, such as Jerusalem artichokes and Yacon root
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
We’ve all heard that we should drink lots of water because it’s essential for good health, and it turns out that includes gut health. Staying hydrated keeps the mucosal lining of the gut hydrated, which supports a healthy microbiome.
Test for food sensitivities
Food sensitivities can lead to a variety of chronic health problems, including digestive issues and migraines. If you continue to eat the foods your body is sensitive to, it causes inflammation in the gut, which harms the microbiome.
Getting tested for food sensitivities and changing your diet accordingly is a necessary step for keeping the gut healthy, especially if you’re dealing with unexplained chronic health concerns.
Wrapping It Up
Our gut health, nutrition, and diet all tie together and can have a major impact on how you feel every day, both mentally and physically. Supporting the microbiome by optimizing your diet and removing excess waste from the gut is essential for overcoming chronic health issues and maintaining a healthy weight. The steps outlined in this article provide a proactive plan to keep your microbiome healthy for the long haul.
*Credit: To read more informational blogs check out Nicole McCray!