What Affects Gut Health
The food you eat obviously plays a role in the bacterial makeup of your gut, but so do a lot of other factors, including the nature of your birth. Research shows that babies delivered vaginally grow up to have more diverse microbiomes than those delivered via C-section, thanks to the exposure they get to different bacteria as they pass through the birth canal. Breastfeeding has also been shown to foster beneficial gut bacteria.
The environment you grow up in matters too. We are way too clean of a society, says Hecht. More exposure to germs and bacteria, within reason, can strengthen our microbiomes. Go outside, dig in the dirt, play with animals its all good. These are things that will help establish a healthy gut.
Emotional stress can also affect gut bacteria. Scientists refer to the gut-brain axis, a pathway through which signals from the gut can affect neurotransmitters in the brain, and vice versa. Research is still early, but a persons microbiome and mental state appear to be able to influence each other to some extent.
Then, too, there is the role of medications, including over-the-counter painkillers and drugs used to treat acid reflux, diabetes and psychiatric conditions; all have been linked to microbiome changes. But the best-known gut-altering drugs are antibiotics: though theyre prescribed to kill harmful bacteria, they can also wipe out bacteria of all kinds.
Cut Out Sugar And Avoid Processed Foods
Youre sweet enough already! Fast digesting sugars, otherwise known as Monnosaccarides, are digested so quickly that your little microbes dont get a chance to take a bite out of them! If you eat too many simple sugars too regularly, you run the risk of literally starving your microbiome to death. Additionally, hungry microbes will resort to munching away at the lining in your intestine, which can lead to inflammation. Try to alter your diet to include more foods with complex sugars, to ensure a happy and healthy microbiome. Heres a list of some sweet foods that will keep both you and your gut happy!
- Sweet Potatoes
Also make sure you keep out an eye for dreaded hidden sources of monosaccharides. Sugar can sneak into foods you would never expect them to be. Keep an eye on sugar levels in things like smoothies, nut butters, protein bars, salad dressings and even in a gut-favourite yogurt!
Exercise For Both You And Your Microbes
Regular physical activity is not only good for your heart, it is;good for your gut, too.;Studies recently showed;that some of the lactate produced during exercise can impact certain gut microbes although we dont yet know how and why.
Start slow if you havent had regular physical activity as part of your daily life. If you start on New Years, by Valentines Day you could be walking daily, or doing some other kind of activity that you like, to help your heart, mind and gut.
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The Gut Microbiota And Obesity
The gut microbiota seems to play a role in the development and progression of obesity. Most studies of overweight and obese people show a dysbiosis characterised by a lower diversity.31-39 Germ-free mice that receive faecal microbes from obese humans gain more weight than mice that receive microbes from healthy weight humans.4 A large study of UK twins found that the genus Christensenella was rare in overweight people and when given to germ free mice prevented weight gain.4 This microbe and others such as Akkermansia correlate with lower visceral fat deposits.12 Although much of the confirmatory evidence comes from mouse models, long term weight gain in humans correlates with low microbiota diversity, and this association is exacerbated by low dietary fibre intake.28
Gut microbiota dysbiosis probably promotes diet induced obesity and metabolic complications by a variety of mechanisms including immune dysregulation, altered energy regulation, altered gut hormone regulation, and proinflammatory mechanisms .
Restore Gut Health Through Your Gut Microbiome
The Gut Microbiome is a general term to describe the diverse collection of microorganisms that populate your large and small intestines. These microbiotas are directly involved in regulating your gut health, neurotransmitters, nutrient uptake and production, and immune health. Changes in the diversity and quality of gut microbiome can lead to a condition called dysbiosis which can give rise to many health issues. Do you want to promote better overall health through your gut microbiome? In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about the community of these good bacteria, how to restore gut health and bacteria, how they protect you from illnesses, and the many ways you can promote the growth of a healthy gut microbiome.
How to restore gut health has become an increasingly relevant subject among health enthusiasts, and it has everything to do with beneficial microorganisms!
Thats right! a gut microbiome is a diverse group of healthy microorganisms comprised of ;bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These healthy microbes reside predominantly in your large intestine and play a key role in maintaining your immune health, regulating metabolic processes, your emotions and your intestinal health.
Why the Gut Microbiome Is Really Important
There are TRILLIONS of microorganisms living in your body, but bacteria are the most abundant and thoroughly studied subgroup.
Dont believe microbiomes are that important?
And theres more to it:
Gut Microbiomes and Brain Health
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How To Feed Your Microbiome: Diet For A Healthy Gut
You are a host to more than;100 trillion bacteria that live in your gut and control every aspect of your physiology. These gut bugs, known as your microbiome, are your greatest allies to improving and maintaining your health. Our individual microbiomes are in many ways our;genetic fingerprint,;as;they help determine our unique DNA, hereditary factors, predisposition to diseases, body type, weight, metabolism, and much more.
Theres a party in;your gut, and you need to nourish your guests in the best way possible so they, in turn, take care of you. After all, you dont want the bad guys crashing your party and destroying your inner ecosystem, right? The bad guys taking over is the first step in;imbalance and inflammation in the body that sets the stage for disease.
Your microbiome;requires proper care and feeding, just like the plants in your garden. Your gut bugs work for you to digest food, manufacture vitamins, absorb nutrients, and keep your immune system running in tip top shape.;When you take care of them, they prevent the unwanted bad guys from breaking down the door, destroying your ecosystem, and;ruining the party. You feel great, your skin glows, you have good poops, and your stomach is nice and flat.
What Can We Do To Nurture The Vaginal Microbiota
Just like the gut, we want to limit chemical exposure to strengthen and enhance the bacterial colonies in the vagina. There is a range of different day-to-day practices that you can apply to further support and even enhance vaginal health.;
Something as simple as not over-washing can actually promote a healthier microbial community in the vagina. You see, the bacterial colony in this area is a powerhouse tribe that has its own self-cleaning system. So the less we disrupt this process, the better. I recommend leaving your washing to other areas of the body and not using soaps and washes down below!;
Another helpful tip is opting for bamboo or organic cotton underwear. Theyre amazingly breathable and have lower levels of toxicity that will certainly have a positive impact on the vaginal microbiota. The same goes for sanitary products like toilet paper, wipes, and menstrual pads go organic whenever possible as less exposure to toxins is quite vital for such an intimate section of your body.
What should be done if theres an imbalance in the vaginal microbiota?
First, its imperative that you address and test for a specific imbalance with the support of a practitioner. The practitioners in our online clinic can assist you with your specific concern. Determining the clear-cut difference between hormonal changes and bacterial imbalances within the vaginal microbiome is extremely vital as the lines can be a little blurred when it comes to this.;
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Manipulating The Gut Microbiota Through Diet
Changes to the gut microbiota can occur within days of changing diet; remarkable differences were found after African Americans and rural Africans switched diets for only two weeks.66 Increased abundance of known butyrate producing bacteria in the African Americans consuming a rural African diet caused butyrate production to increase 2.5 times and reduced synthesis of secondary bile acid.66 Another study comparing extreme shifts between plant and animal protein based diets showed these changes after only five days.67 But healthy microbiota are resilient to temporal changes by dietary interventions, meaning that homeostatic reactions restore the original community composition, as recently shown in the case of bread 68
If You Can Breastfeed For At Least 6 Months
A babys microbiome begins to properly develop at birth. However, studies suggest that babies may be exposed to some bacteria even before birth .
During the first 2 years of life, an infants microbiome is continuously developing and is rich in beneficial Bifidobacteria, which can digest the sugars found in breast milk .
Many studies have shown that infants who are fed formula have an altered microbiome with fewer Bifidobacteria than infants who are breastfed (
A number of studies have shown that vegetarian diets may benefit the gut microbiome, which may be due to their high fiber content.
For example, one small 2013 study found that a vegetarian diet led to reduced levels of disease-causing bacteria in people with obesity, as well as reductions in body weight, inflammation, and cholesterol levels .
A 2019 review noted that plant foods are rich in specific nutrients that can increase levels of beneficial bacteria and decrease harmful strains of bacteria to support gut health .
However, it is unclear if the benefits of a vegetarian diet on the gut microbiome are due to a lack of meat intake or if other factors may also play a role.
Vegetarian and vegan diets may improve the microbiome. However, it is unclear if the positive effects associated with these diets can be attributed to a lack of meat intake or if other factors may be involved.
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It May Help Control Blood Sugar And Lower The Risk Of Diabetes
The gut microbiome also may help control blood sugar, which could affect the risk of type 1 and 2 diabetes.
One recent study examined 33 infants who had a genetically high risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
It found that the diversity of the microbiome dropped suddenly before the onset of type 1 diabetes. It also found that levels of a number of unhealthy bacterial species increased just before the onset of type 1 diabetes .
Another study found that even when people ate the exact same foods, their blood sugar could vary greatly. This may be due to the types of bacteria in their guts .
The gut microbiome plays a role in controlling blood sugar and may also affect the onset of type 1 diabetes in children.
Metabolic Functions Of The Microbiota
After characterizing microbial community membership and dynamics, it is critical to understand the functional activities that ultimately affect host physiology. Gut microbiota are integral to host digestion and nutrition, and they can generate nutrients from substrates that are otherwise indigestible by the host. For instance, xyloglucans are commonly found in dietary vegetables such as lettuce and onions, and the capacity for microbial digestion of xyloglucans was recently mapped to a single locus in a certain species of Bacteroides . The ability to digest xyloglucans was shown to be a relatively rare trait in members of the phylum Bacteroidetes, and the importance of this capability to the human host was demonstrated by analysis of a public metagenome database showing that 92% of individuals contained at least one of these rare Bacteroides species capable of digesting xyloglucans. These findings illustrate how humans have cultivated mutually beneficial relationships with gut microbiota with implications for diet and nutrition.
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The Role Of Probiotics
If microbiota are so vital to our health, how can we ensure that we have enough or the right types? You may be familiar with probiotics or perhaps already using them. These are either foods that naturally contain microbiota, or supplement pills that contain live active bacteriaadvertised to promote digestive health. Probiotic supplement sales exceeded $35 billion in 2015, with a projected increase to $65 billion by 2024. Whether you believe the health claims or think they are yet another snake oil scam, they make up a multi-billion dollar industry that is evolving in tandem with quickly emerging research.
Because probiotics fall under the category of supplements and not food, they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. This means that unless the supplement company voluntarily discloses information on quality, such as carrying the USP seal that provides standards for quality and purity, a probiotic pill may not contain the amounts listed on the label or even guarantee that the bacteria are alive and active at the time of use.
Improve Your Gut Microbiome Today For The 4rs
There are a number of factors that contribute to the health of your gut microbiome, including your environment, the amount of exercise and sleep you get, and of course, stress. But the number one factor that determines what microbes live in your gut is your diet.
In Functional Medicine, there is a very successful protocol called the 4Rs, which stands for Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, and Repair. There are many resources for learning more about the 4 Rs. I like Raphael Kellman, M.D.s book, The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss.
The beautiful thing about the 4Rs protocol is that it doesnt have to be followed in order. Once you remove the processed foods and toxins from your diet, you can start doing all of the remaining 3 steps together. Unless you suffer from a serious digestive disorder or other condition, you can follow the 4Rs on your own. Or, find a practitioner who can tailor the protocol to your specific needs.
Here are my suggestions for following the 4Rs and improving your gut microbiome starting today:
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Can Diet Affect Ones Microbiota
In addition to family genes, environment, and medication use, diet plays a large role in determining what kinds of microbiota live in the colon. All of these factors create a unique microbiome from person to person. A high-fiber diet in particular affects the type and amount of microbiota in the intestines. Dietary fiber can only be broken down and fermented by enzymes from microbiota living in the colon. Short chain fatty acids are released as a result of fermentation. This lowers the pH of the colon, which in turn determines the type of microbiota present that would survive in this acidic environment. The lower pH limits the growth of some harmful bacteria like Clostridium difficile. Growing research on SCFA explores their wide-ranging effects on health, including stimulating immune cell activity and maintaining normal blood levels of glucose and cholesterol.
Be aware that a high intake of prebiotic foods, especially if introduced suddenly, can increase gas production and bloating. Individuals with gastrointestinal sensitivities such as irritable bowel syndrome should introduce these foods in small amounts to first assess tolerance. With continued use, tolerance may improve with fewer side effects.
If one does not have food sensitivities, it is important to gradually implement a high-fiber diet because a low-fiber diet may not only reduce the amount of beneficial microbiota, but increase the growth of pathogenic bacteria that thrive in a lower acidic environment.
Recommending A Food Supplement To Help Balance Bacteria In The Gut
Alongside recommending a healthy diet and lifestyle, food supplements can be used to help promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.
There are certain things to consider when recommending a food supplement:International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. Probiotic checklist: making a smart selection, 2018. Available at: https://isappscience.org/isapp-releases-new-infographic/. Accessed December 2019.,World Health Organization . Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food 2002. Available at: https://www.who.int/foodsafety/fs_management/en/probiotic_guidelines.pdf. Accessed December 2019.
|Has it demonstrated a benefit in clinical trials and in the population of interest?|
|Does it provide an effective dose, as shown by research studies that have used the product?|
|Is it adequately labelled with:|
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Irritable Bowel Disease And The Microbiota
A role for the microbiota in irritable bowel syndrome is suspected, though unproven, and therapies that alter the microbiota, including dietary changes, probiotics, and antibiotics, have shown encouraging, though inconsistent, results . In two reports describing the results of dietary intervention with a low FODMAP diet consisting of restricted intake of certain fermentable substrates compared to a typical Australian diet in a small number of Australian patients with IBS, the low FODMAP diet improved symptoms and resulted in changes in the gut microbiota, including reductions in putatively healthy bacteria, such as those in butyrate-producing Clostridium cluster XIVa . One proposed pathway involved in IBS is through a microbiota-gut-brain axis, linking changes in the gut to symptom perception in the central nervous system. An interesting recent report demonstrated that the intake of a probiotic-rich fermented milk product resulted in alterations in brain activity in response to visual emotional stimuli as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging as compared to the intake of a control product . The study of IBS is challenging due to the lack of specific diagnostic tests and the possibility of heterogeneous etiologies. There may be a subset of patients where microbiota changes are particularly important and for whom therapies to affect microbiota composition and function may be beneficial.