Talk about the perfect friendship – the harmonious relationship with your microbiome! Sounds a bit naff doesn’t it, but if there was one friendship I’d cherish for good measure it would be the trillions of beneficial bacteria otherwise referred to as the “microbiome”.
Don’t neglect or underestimate the power of the microbiome, the health benefits are abundantly clear as they play an important role in;
- Modulating your immune system, making you stronger and more resilient to colds and flu, allergies, & autoimmune disease.
- Improving the absorption of important vitamins and minerals such as B Vitamin’s, Vitamin K, Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc.
- Regulates metabolism, controls your blood glucose and insulin sensitivity.
- Helps to normalize gut motility/health bowel function.
- Mood management.
- Stimulates the production of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA’s), acetate, propionate, and butyrate.
- Down-regulates inflammation, protecting the body from damage to cells, tissue and organs.
When things go bad
Poor diet and lifestyle choices over-time can have a negative impact on your microbiome. The result is a reduction in the diversity of the organisms within the gut leaving opportunistic pathogens (disease causing) to grow, thus causing a state of imbalance something we term ‘dysbiosis’. Not ideal, as the negative implications can present from a range of gut complaints, to food intolerances, nutrient deficiencies, a weakened immune system, blood glucose dysregulation, and heightened feelings of anxiety and depression - these are all common outcomes with an imbalanced microbiome.
So, how to stay friends with your microbiota? Like with all good friendships, we need to treat them with love and kindness, and microbiome feeding foods!
- Eat a diet rich in fibre. The more fibre in your diet, the richer the diversity of your microbiome.
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
- Berries– blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries
- Nuts – hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans
- Grapeseed extract
- Cranberry extract
- Black beans
- Brown Rice
- Flax seeds
- Colourful Vegetables
- Choose good quality probiotic and prebiotic supplements that contain specific strains to suit your needs. This is a good question to ask your naturopath as not all probiotics/prebiotics are equal!
- Stress management; time and time again we underestimate the detrimental effect that long-term stress has on our body. The constant push for your body to release stress hormone like cortisol, and adrenaline sensitize your body to inflammation, including gut inflammation. This disrupts the gut environment, compromising your microbiome.
- Antibiotic use: While sometimes this cannot be helped and antibiotics certainly have beneficial effects when needed, they do unfortunately lead to a loss of core beneficial bacteria. If you have recently had a course of antibiotics or you have a history of antibiotic use, you may benefit from talking to your naturopath about rebuilding your microbiome.
- Exercise: Exercise has been linked to increased microbial diversity in the gut – another reason to get moving!
So the message is, be kind to your microbiome! Eat your vegetables, make sure you are getting plenty of fibre in your diet, minimise your stress, keep moving and watch your health flourish.
If you are concerned about the health of your microbiome and would like to learn more about gut health or ways to heal your gut, make a booking with your naturopath today.
Written by Karen Mason BHSc