Free shipping + tote bag with all orders!

Top 10 Ways to Support Your Gut Microbiome

You probably know how important your gut health is to your overall health. Did you know that ~80% of your immune system is in your microbiome? Your body’s bacteria helps with just about every process in the body – from digesting food, to thinking clearly and balancing mood, it even helps with maintaining a healthy weight!

Your microbiome is not just in your gut – it is also housed in other openings of your body, like your mouth, your genitals, and your nose! When your microbiome is balanced, you are balanced – you stay healthy, happy, and experience healthy energy levels. When your microbiome is out of balance, your health can end up out of balance, too.

Did you know that the average lifespan of a bacterium in your microbiome is only 12 hours1? WOW. This means that you have the opportunity to change the population of your gut microbiome every time you eat! When you change your gut bacteria, you change how your body produces and metabolises energy, too.

We’ve outlined some of our favourite tips for supporting your microbiome:

  1. Sweat every day. Your gut bacteria are healthiest when you exercise regularly. In fact, daily exercise supports biodiversity of your gut flora and research shows that exercise actually increases the good bacteria in your gut!2
  1. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep has been associated with a number of health conditions and can impact weight. However, your gut flora can also affect your sleep patterns! This means that you must improve your gut flora to get a good night’s sleep.
  1. Find time to relax and de-stress. Research shows that prolonged periods of stress may impair your gut bacteria and make you susceptible to infection.3
  1. Get dirty. Overly sterile environments and frequent use of hand sanitise don’t support biodiversity of your gut bacteria4. While being clean is fine, don’t be afraid to get dirty, too!
  1. Make preparing your meals a ritual. Pretty much every culture has rituals around food, but sometimes we forget them in our busy lives. Turning your routine meal prep and meal times into a ritual helps to bring awareness and intention to our meal and meal time. This can box relax you and set you up for better digestion.
  1. Remove the sugar and processed foods from your diet. Refined carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and processed foods all get absorbed quickly into your small intestine, without any help from your microbes! This means that your gut microbes stay hungry – they may begin snacking on cells that line your intestines and impact your intestinal lining, which is meant to be a strong barrier between your gut and the rest of your body. This can lead to a whole cascade of digestive conditions. In addition, sugar feeds various organisms found in the gut and can lead to overgrowths of yeast.
  1. Get your carbohydrates from low GI fruits and vegetables. Including leafy green vegetables with every meal can help support your gut with healthy and diverse bacteria. Some of our favourite fruit and veg have a lot of other health benefits, too (like prebiotics and fibre)! Try Jerusalem artichokes, radishes, garlic, turmeric, radishes, leeks, jicama, carrots and asparagus. Don’t forget to include a balance of healthy fats and protein with each meal as well!
  1. Include fermented foods in your diet. Fermented foods are known to seed your gut with healthy bacteria. Eat sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, unprocessed yoghurt, kefir and kombucha, which are also rich in prebiotics! If you are sensitive to histamines and experience issues after consuming traditional fermented foods, this may be due to how they have fermented and the strains of bacteria involved. Did you know that you can ferment your foods with spores which can make consuming these types of foods easier?
  1. Drink tea. Research shows that polyphenols increase healthy microbes (probiotics), which keeps your microbiome in optimal balance. Tea is a rich source of polyphenols, which are healthy prebiotics that feed the healthy bugs in your gut. The polyphenols in tea also help you digest your food faster, support hunger cravings, and allow you to poop more. Research shows that the polyphenols in black tea decrease your gut’s ability to absorb fats and sugars5 and green tea supports the body’s ability to excrete fat by preventing the absorption of triglycerides and cholesterol6.
  1. Eat the Nordic way. Including foods like skyr, whole-grain rye breads and wild foods like herbs, greens, nuts and berries in your diet can all have a positive impact on your microbiome. Try replacing wheat with oats, rye or barley and include oily fish or seafood like salmon, mackerel, clams, sardines, mussels and seaweed to support healthy gut flora. Not a fan of seafood? A good quality fish oil will also help support your microbiome.

References

[1] Villazon, L. How long does a bacterium live? Science Focus. 2021; doi: https://tinyurl.com/nkhferes

[2] Mika A, Van Treuren W, González A, Herrera JJ, Knight R, Fleshner M. Exercise is More Effective at Altering Gut Microbial Composition and Producing Stable Changes in Lean Mass in Juvenile versus Adult Male F344 Rats. PLoS One. 2015 May 27;10(5):e0125889. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125889. PMID: 26016739; PMCID: PMC4446322.

[3] Lyte M, Vulchanova L, Brown DR. Stress at the intestinal surface: catecholamines and mucosa-bacteria interactions. Cell Tissue Res. 2011 Jan;343(1):23-32. doi: 10.1007/s00441-010-1050-0. Epub 2010 Oct 13. PMID: 20941511.

[4] Ottman N, Ruokolainen L, Suomalainen A, Sinkko H, Karisola P, Lehtimäki J, Lehto M, Hanski I, Alenius H, Fyhrquist N. Soil exposure modifies the gut microbiota and supports immune tolerance in a mouse model. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019 Mar;143(3):1198-1206.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.06.024. Epub 2018 Aug 7. PMID: 30097187.

[5] Pan H, Gao Y, Tu Y. Mechanisms of Body Weight Reduction by Black Tea Polyphenols. Molecules. 2016 Dec 7;21(12):1659. doi: 10.3390/molecules21121659. PMID: 27941615; PMCID: PMC6273558.

[6] Dulloo AG, Duret C, Rohrer D, Girardier L, Mensi N, Fathi M, Chantre P, Vandermander J. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;70(6):1040-5. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/70.6.1040. PMID: 10584049.

By Jessica Sanders, Gutsi® Naturopath.