There is a LOT of information out there on the benefits of having a fully functioning microbiome, and a LOT of information can be super confusing for those trying to seek alternative ways to achieve health without using medications.
That said, heres a brief run down of changes you can make right now to improve your gut performance. Yeah, some of it sucks if you like eating the standard diet that most people like to eat. Yeah, its not easy if you don't want to make changes in your life. But come on! You feel like crap and masking symptoms with something you bought from the pharmacy might give you short term relief, but if you don't address the problem, things are gonna get rough and for the few easy steps you can take to improve your symptoms, isn't a bit of a change worth it?
This guide is for those that say I can and I will, not I can't and I won't! Change is all about moving forward with your life and about stopping the bad habits that put you on this page!
Roasting done! Here goes....
TOP TEN TIPS FOR SHAPING A BEAUTIFUL MICROBIOME.
1. Stop eating sugar and refined carbohydrate
Ever wondered why you crave snacks like cookies, potato chips and chocolate? Its because the bacteria, fungi and parasites in your body are telling your brain that they need them! Creepy hey? So it's not actually you that needs them, its those bad bugs that are telling you to eat them so they can grow some more! Take control- just say no!
2. Embrace fermented foods
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, cheese, yogurt and good dark chocolate are rich in beneficial bacteria. Fermenting allows many of the nutrients in foods to partially digest which decreases the work load on your body to properly digest foods. This can be particularly beneficial when dairy allergy such as lactose intolerance is a problem, because the bacteria eat the lactose, making cheese and yogurt lactose free if prepared properly. Fermenting also allows vitamins and minerals to become more available to the body. For instance sauerkraut has 20 times the amount vitamin c available for absorption in comparison to normal cabbage. Eat a small amount of sauerkraut with each meal and it will stimulate gastric juices to help you digest your meal. All this and the added benefit of increasing the amount of good bacteria in your tummy!
3. Remove inflammatory foods
No whole food should be a problem for a healthy human gut. However, if you have an issue with gut bacteria, you also probably have some degree of intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut. This can be very specific to the person, but the best way to establish what is causing your gut issues is to keep a food diary for a week or so to try and see what triggers your symptoms. I often have people that not happy to keep track of what they eat because 'it's too time consuming", "I forget", "there must be an easier way", my answer, "harden up princess!" You have to remember this is YOUR BODY, no other person on this planet should care about their body more than YOU! Remember it has probably taken years for your gut health to go in this direction, taking a week to log dietary habits is a drop in the ocean when you consider how much this will benefit you long term.
4. Quit smoking.
If not for any other reason that its the simple biggest risk factor for disease, it also reduces the diversity of your gut microbiome.
5. Eat more fish
Fish is an amazing food source as it provides protein and fat which are both essential to maintaining our beautiful bodies, BUT more importantly it provides us with Omega 3 fatty acids. These fats reduce inflammation often present when you have a gut issue. It has been shown in studies that inflammation in the gut is often caused by bacterial toxins, omega 3 oils were shown to change the bacterial composition of the microbiome by reducing the amount of toxins produced. Eat your fish!!! At least 2 to 3 times a week. If you don't like fish get some fish oil, but make sure it has a long expiry to make sure its fresh and then store in the fridge after opening.
6. Eat your greens
Green vegetables are the absolute all round good guys. They are good sources of fibre and they are an essential food source for the beneficial bacteria in the gut. By increasing the beneficials, you crowd out all the bad guys and improve the good bacteria content.
7. Choose your carbs wisely and prepare them properly.
Fruit is good for you! But not when you eat 3 bananas one after the other and convince yourself it is better than eating a twix! Yes nutritionally it is better, but it is a still a whole heap of sugar that will feed gross bugs! Limit yourself to 2 portions a day and instead feel the love for vegie sticks and a healthy dip. Lower sugar fruits like berries are a fantastic option. Other carbs to consider are the starchy foods like pasta, rice and potatoes which are all converted to sugar in the body and will feed the critters too. Make them into food for your good guys by cooking and cooling before eating. This creates a resistant starch, resistant meaning it resists digestion in the gut making it available further down the intestine to feed beneficial bacteria. When you do this, the bacteria produce food for the cells of the large intestine to give them energy and keep them well. Cue-no bowel cancer!! Keep the skins on potatoes for extra fibre. Enjoy potato salad, pasta salad.....you get the picture!
8. Reduce alcohol intake
Too much alcohol is not good for anyone, and we all know the limits so let's not go there! An interesting study showed that drinking gin reduced gut diversity, whereas red wine increased it! Finally good news! BUT!!!! stay within limits. A glass of red wine with dinner seems to be beneficial, a bottle swigged in front of the telly, not so much!
9. Don't demand antibiotics.
One of my bug bears as pharmacist is patients presenting to the doctor for antibiotics for cold symptoms. Not cool people, and highly ineffective as colds are viral and therefore antibiotics have no effect. By taking more than one course a year you are risking killing much of the beneficials in your system and the extent of how bad this gets depends on how many courses you have. If you definitely need them, make sure you supplement with a good probiotic and take it at bedtime or 2 hours away from the antibiotic. This will allow the beneficials to grow and will build them up before they get the next hit of antibiotic.
10. Get in touch with nature
Being in nature always make you feel good. Fresh air and being out in green spaces also increases bacterial diversity as you are surrounded by bacteria in nature. Being outdoors de-stresses the system and improves the immune system, so it reduces stress on the microbiome. Also exercising outdoors is an amazing way to increase contact with nature and increases the numbers of "butyrate" producing bacteria. Butyrate is superfood for your gut cells.
Even if you only implement one tip at a time, you will feel the benefits of increased gut health!
Wishing you happy gut health!