Tips To Boost Your Gut Microbiome
Your gut microbiome is a vast community of trillions of bacteria and fungi that inhabit every nook and cranny of your gastrointestinal tract, and have a major influence on your metabolism, body weight, propensity to illness, immune system, appetite and mood. These microbes mostly live in your lower intestine and outnumber all the other cells in your body put together.
Conceptually, we should view these microbes as a newly discovered organ, weighing slightly more than our brains and nearly as vital. There are some organs we can live without, including our spleen, gall bladder, tonsils and appendix, but we wouldnt survive long without our gut microbes. Intriguingly, no two microbiomes are the same we are all unique. And more than ever, were finding out just how important these microbes are.
Read more about the microbiome:
According to research, the richer and more diverse the community of gut microbes are, the lower your risk of disease and allergies. This has been shown in animal tests and also in human studies comparing the microbes of people with and without particular diseases. Examples from recent work at Kings College London include studies of diabetes, obesity, allergy and inflammatory diseases like colitis and arthritis.
Meanwhile, there is mounting evidence that babies born via caesarean section miss out on some of the microbes they would obtain through a vaginal birth, which may make them more vulnerable to allergies and asthma.
Fermented Foods Are Gut
Fermented foods are another great source of probiotics. The crowd favourite is yogurt, however, if youre going to be eating a lot of yogurt, make sure that it is sugar-free! There are several other options that are a great source of good bacteria. Kombucha is becoming a very popular source of probiotics. You can also eat things like pickles, kimchee, and kefir to ensure that youre getting enough live cultures to keep your gut healthy and happy.
How The Study Was Conducted
Investigators set out to determine if eating a diet designed to improve gut diversity either one rich in fiber or one rich in fermentation could have potential benefits for lowering inflammation and battling chronic inflammatory diseases.
In the study, published in July 2021 in the journal Cell, healthy adults were divided into two groups, with 21 people eating high-fiber foods such as fruits, whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and 18 people consuming fermented foods.
Stool samples were collected from the subjects during a three-week pretrial period, during the 10 weeks of following the assigned diet, and then for a four-week period after the study, when participants went back to eating whatever they wanted. Blood samples were also taken to measure inflammation and immune function.
In addition to increasing the diversity of the gut microbiome, people who ate fermented foods showed less activation for four types of immune cells and the levels of several inflammatory proteins, including interleukin 6, also decreased.
Interleukin 6 is elevated in many chronic inflammatory disorders including rheumatoid arthritis , lupus, ankylosing spondylitis and inflammatory bowel disease , according to Mayo Clinic Laboratories. The findings were strengthened by a dose dependent relationship- the larger the servings of fermented foods, the greater the effect.
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Your Microbiome Affects How You Respond To Food
The bacteria that live in our gut may explain why even identical twins with the same genes respond to the same foods differently. Scientists can accurately predict how our blood sugar changes after food using data about our gut bacteria. In contrast, our genetic data do not accurately predict our responses to food.
Researchers have found that the identity of the microbes living in our gut can also impact the effectiveness of changes to how we eat. A 2015 study from the University of Gothenburg showed that people with high levels of a particular type of bacteria in their gut called Prevotella responded better to dietary changes intended to improve blood sugar control.
Like any ecosystem, the community of microbes in our gut is a delicate balance. When the microbes in our gut are out of balance , we can often run into problems. This imbalance has been associated with a range of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even cancer. We donât entirely understand it yet, but stress, illness, being overweight, overuse of antibiotics, and eating poor quality food are all thought to be contributing factors.â
Your Genes Dont Matter But Your Gut Microbiomes Genes Do
As a society, we have been quick to place the blame for everything from our weight to our moods on our genes. We say things like She can drink wine and eat chocolate every day and not gain weight because she is French. The truth is human beings all have similar DNA. So why is it that some people are healthy when they consume chocolate every day while others maintain a strict Paleo diet and struggle with digestive symptoms or worse? Its because, unlike our genes, our microbiomes genes are vastly different.
The good news is that you can change your gut microbiome. You see, the average lifespan of a bacterium in your microbiome is 20 minutes! So, you have the opportunity every time you eat to begin to change the population of your gut microbiome. This is good news because it means that rather than having to subscribe to theories such as the Paleo diet, which assumes our genes evolve so slowly that we all need to eat like cavemen, we can begin to change our gut microbiome one meal at a time and even achieve a healthy gut very quickly.
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How To Restore Healthy Gut Flora
Probiotics can support a healthy microbiome. These foods and supplements contain live bacteria that can benefit our health.
The bacteria in your gut make up a very important ecosystem, and if this becomes upset, it can lead to abnormalities in its composition and diversity. There are many things in life which can have negative consequences on your gut bacteria and intestinal health.
Studies have shown that probiotics can help to restore gut bacteria to healthy levels which protects us from inflammation. Live fermented foods are great sources of natural probiotics that you can eat and drink. Researchers think these traditional foods may play an important role in human health.
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Microbial Diversity: The Key To Improving Gut Health
Dr Kaylyn Tousignant
Wondering how your microbial diversity level stacks up? Get a brief overview of what science knows so far about microbial diversity and how you can improve yours for gut health.
As creatures of habit, its easy to get stuck in the same old routine, especially when it comes to our food. For example, did you know 66% of the worlds crop production comes from only nine plants1? That doesnt exactly encourage diverse eating habits, and yet, scientists are learning that adding diversity to your diet can benefit both you and your gut bugs!
Like us, different gut bacteria prefer different types of food, which they can break down to provide us with a wide range of health benefits. Eating a diverse range of foods can help increase your microbial diversity and in turn maximise the potential benefits from your gut bacteria.
Learn more about your unique gut bacteria and what they can do for you through Microba Insight.
Microbial diversity refers to the number of different species in your gut microbiome and how evenly they are spread out.
Having a rich and diverse gut microbiome has become an important biomarker for gut health because numerous studies, including Microbas own, have observed lower diversity as being associated with various diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease2,3, type 1 diabetes4, obesity5 and other health concerns.
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Fad Diets Should Be Avoided
Science has shown repeatedly that dieters are doomed to failure, yet new fad diets always manage to find abundant followers.
Fad diets are often restrictive novelties that are not backed up by medical research. In many cases, they promise quick and easy weight-loss strategies without any information about the science, risks, and potential long-term consequences for your health, gut, and microbiome.
These nutritional regimes can mean cutting out whole food groups or eating a specific type of food. A major one is the no-carb craze, but we know that a healthy microbiome and happy gut flora need prebiotic fibres to produce beneficial metabolites. Just removing food can disturb this sensitive ecosystem and your bodys delicate metabolic balance.
Consider Fermented Dairy Products
As far back as the early 1900s, a scientist called Elie Metchnikoff observed that Bulgarians who ate large amounts of fermented-milk products had a relatively long life expectancy. This, and other studies have formed the basis of probiotics foodstuffs that contain live bacteria such as lactobacilli. There is mixed evidence supporting the use of probiotics certainly it is thought that to confer any type of benefit, probiotics must be taken on a regular basis. This is due to the fact that it the gut microbiome can be relatively resistant to change and it can be difficult for these bacteria to permanently colonize the microbiome.
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What Is Microbiome Diversity
Diversity is an essential parameter when measuring the health benefits of this ecosystem that lives in the colon. The gut microbiota comprises hundreds of species: its diversity contributes to health. But lack of microbial diversity creates an imbalance that can contribute to digestive distress and reduce disease protection conferred by a thriving ecosystem of gut bacteria.
The Atlas Biomed Microbiome Test uses genetic sequencing technology and the Chao1 index for precision analysis of your gut microbiome and its diversity.
Practical Recommendations To Increase Gut Microbial Diversity
The Gut Microbiota for Health meeting particularly emphasized the applications of gut microbiota science.
The Gut Microbiota for Health meeting particularly emphasized the applications of gut microbiota science. Scientists havent yet identified the healthiest microbial composition, but whats clear so far is that a diverse colonizing microbiota is important: more diversity means greater resilience, with the potential to make you generally healthier and able to resist specific diseases.
With input from other GMFH board members, I have created a list of practical recommendations which, to the best of our current knowledge, increase the diversity of microbes colonizing your gut:
And if you want to know more about the world inside you, check out these non-profit projects, which allow you to get your microbiota assayed and compare your microbial diversity to others in the project:
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Research Shows That Physical Activity Especially Cardio Is Good For The Body And The Gut Microbiome
DISCLAIMER This article is for informational purposes. Always consult your GP if you plan on implementing changes to your exercise routine, especially if you have been leading sedentary lifestyle with little or no physical activity.
In this article, we explain the relationships between gut microbial diversity and cardio, before reviewing exercise recommendations for health.
The microbiome is community of mostly bacteria that inhabits areas of the human body and perform beneficial functions for us, the hosts. The gut microbiome is of particular interest because it performs a range of functions that support health and reduce disease risk.
What Does Gut Microbiome Diversity Mean
The bacteria that colonize an animals intestines are influenced by things like diet5,6, the environment in which they live7, and medical treatments such as antibiotics8. Changes in the microbiome composition and how diverse the population is, is typically measured in two ways: taxonomic diversity and functional diversity.
Taxonomic diversity9 describes how many different types of bacteria are found in terms of their taxonomic rankings. That is how many assorted species, genera, orders, phyla, and so on are observed in samples. Although initial theories proposed that animal species had a “core” microbiome9, meaning a require set of bacterial species, studies have shown that substantial differences exist between individuals. This means that while species A is found in one person, it may not be found in others, and both may have completely healthy microbiomes.
Functional diversity9, on the other hand, refers to the specific jobs each species fulfills in their host. Imagine surveying a warehouse and picking out which employees are performing different jobs. Some roles are fulfilled by one person, others by multiple, but they work together and the warehouse runs smoothly.
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Should I Get A Microbiome Test
You can learn more about the composition of your gut microbiome and how it affects your health with the Atlas Biomed Microbiome Test. The personalised health report includes:
- an overall score for microbiome functions and disease protection
- in-depth profile of your microbes and a probiotics report
- potential for nutrient synthesis including butyrate and vitamins
- ability to break down fibre and personalised food recommendations
We use advanced genetic sequencing to analyse your microbiome, generating results and recommendations using algorithms based on the results of thousands of clinical trials and scientific papers. This allows us to identify your individual traits and tailor recommendations for your unique body to enhance your health and wellbeing.
If you’ve already taken the test, here are links to your results and cool features in your personal account.
Implications Of Microbiome Diversity In Health
We still do not know the full scope of diversity in the gut microbiome. Most studies focus on fecal samples, which do not necessarily capture species that colonize the stomach or more distant parts of the intestines. More recent research done in both dogs and cats has found that the microbiome composition varies along its length10,11, which prompts further study into its importance. Additionally, the majority of studies have been conducted in mouse models and humans, although researchers have expanded to other animals including dogs, cats, koalas, red pandas, and insects12.
Multiple studies have found that lower diversity is associated with various diseases like inflammatory bowel disease13, obesity14, type 115 and type 216 diabetes, and psoriatic arthritis17. Many people take probiotics in an effort to either recover or retain their healthy microbiota and they have shown some promise for resolving intestinal symptoms like diarrhea. Obliterating microbial populations in the gut after antibiotic treatment, which severely impacts diversity, has been linked to Clostridium difficile infections18 in humans. Restoring the microbiota with a fecal transplant has proven to be effective and prompted veterinarians to begin exploring this method to treat parvovirus in puppies19.
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Ways To Improve Your Gut Bacteria Based On Science
There are around 40 trillion bacteria in your body, most of which are found in your gut.
Collectively, they are known as your gut microbiome, and theyre incredibly important for overall health. However, certain types of bacteria in your intestines can also contribute to many diseases.
Many factors, including the foods you eat, can impact the type of bacteria found in your digestive tract.
Here are 9 science-based ways to improve your gut bacteria.
Good Foods For Boosting The Gut Microbiome
- Fruit and vegetables
- Frequent snacks
- Whole milk
Diet isnt the most important factor, however: In the Flemish Gut Flora Project, medications had the biggest influence on gut microbiome diversity. Antibiotics, proton-pump inhibitors , and metformin were all linked to lower diversity. So were diseases such as ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
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Artificial Sweeteners Are Not On The Healthy Gut Diet Plan
Sugar-free alternatives have been branded as a better option than sugar, but when it comes to your intestinal health, this isnt strictly true.
Artificial sweeteners may be a convenient replacement for those with a sweet tooth, but they may not be as beneficial as originally thought. Some studies have shown that they can actually increase blood sugar and increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Its easy to reach for a non-sugar sweetener, but if youre trying to lower your sugar intake, its worth considering reaching for a piece of fruit, some dark chocolate, or simply forgoing the syrup in your latte.
How A Healthy Microbiome May Prevent Coronavirus Infections
When your gut is healthy, you have a much better chance of staving off infections. So, it makes sense that a healthy gut microbiome could prevent you from severe COVID-19 infection. In addition, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity have the worst outcomes when they become ill from COVID-19 and other infections. And these conditions are associated with negative changes in the composition of the gut microbiome, possibly from medications as well as diet.
A preliminary study showed that a less-than-optimal gut microbiome was highly correlated with proinflammatory cytokines and that certain gut microbiota can predispose individuals to severe COVID-19. The reason may be because the coronavirus enters the body by binding to the ACE2 enzyme, which plays an important role in the regulation of intestinal inflammation and affects the microbes that play a role in diseases of the heart and lungs. This may mean that a healthy gut microbiome prevents some COVID-19 patients from experiencing the cytokine storm seen in severe cases.
Like everything else, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your microbiome. You may be a strict vegetarian, eat the Paleo way or fall somewhere in between. The key is to keep supporting your microbiome with the foods that are healthy for you.
How have you taken measures to heal your gut? Do you notice a difference in your overall health? Please share your comments below.
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