There’s been a lot of buzz lately about microbiomes. It turns out their care and feeding is critical to our good health. But if you’ve heard the word microbiome before and don’t have any clue what it means, don’t worry. You’re in good company.
Microbiome may be an intimidating word, but it boils down to your gut and the bacteria that call it home. And feeding your microbiome simply means taking care of your gut health.
Countless bacteria, both good guys (probiotics) and not so good guys, live in your gut. And when those gut bugs are in the proper balance they help keep you healthy.
In fact, recent research has revealed a healthy, balanced microbiome can help with everything from managing your weight to maintaining your mental health. While an imbalance in your gut flora can put you at a higher risk for cancer, obesity, IBS and more.
The proper feeding and care of your microbiome
In other words, if you want to get healthy and stay that way, you need to keep your gut filled with happy, well-fed good gut bugs, or probiotics.
Following are five simple ways you can feed and care for your microbiome to supercharge your health.
1. Eat more fermented foods:
You’ll find the good bacteria your microbiome needs to be at its healthiest in fermented foods of all places. These foods—such as Greek yogurt, kefir and traditional “homemade” sauerkraut—contain plenty of beneficial bacteria. .
Several studies, including one published in the British Journal of Nutrition, have found that folks who regularly eat plain yogurt have more of the good bacteria, lactobacilli, in their microbiome. But the belly benefits don’t end there. Yogurt eaters also have fewer Enterobacteriaceae. These “bad” bacteria can trigger chronic diseases caused by inflammation.
If you choose yogurt over other fermented foods, be sure to pick a plain variety. Flavored yogurts are loaded up with extra sugar which can throw your microbiome out of whack. If you need to sweeten things up a bit, toss in some fresh berries or a drizzle of honey.
2. Slash added sugars:
Too much sugar can mess with your microbiome in a couple ways.
The lining of your digestive system is supposed to be solid so nothing can flow through it. But sugar can raise your risk for a leaky gut. When you have a leaky gut, microscopic particles can seep from your intestines into your bloodstream. This then triggers systemic inflammation which can lead to chronic illnesses including heart problems, diabetes and kidney disease.
Sugars can also feed some of the unhealthy bacteria you don’t want in your gut. And the more sugar they gobble up the more they grow. Eventually this knocks your whole microbiome out of balance, and you end up sick.
The solution is simple. Slash the added sugars in your diet.
3. Cut back on antibiotics and antacids:
An antibiotic’s entire purpose in life is to kill bacteria. And they kill without discrimination, mowing down good and bad bacteria alike.
Antibiotics can be true lifesavers if you have a serious infection. But many of us take them when we don’t really need them. Either we have a virus, which antibiotics won’t touch. Or we have a minor complaint that we could simply allow to run its course, or use natural antibiotics to manage.
Antibiotic drugs kill good and bad bugs alike, completely changing the balance of your microbiome. And according to experts, while some of your gut flora may recover on their own when you’re done with your meds, some will never bounce back naturally. Taking a probiotic at the same time as your meds, and for several weeks after can help.
Then there are those purple pills your doc tells you to take for heartburn. Turns out, they’re messing with your gut flora, too.
A study out of the Netherlands found protein pump inhibitors (PPIs), the most popular kind of antacid, alter our gut makeup by as much as 20 percent. Not only were good bacteria slashed, bad bacteria flourished in the folks taking PPIs.
To care for your own microbiome only use antibiotics when they’re necessary. And before taking a PPI or other antacid try relieving your heartburn naturally. Click here for some heartburn relieving tips.
4. Reduce your stress levels:
Have you ever noticed that when you’re under a lot of stress you really feel it in your gut? Turns out there’s a reason for that.
Researchers at Texas Tech University have confirmed what many of us have suspected all along. And that is stress messes with your gut. In fact, according to the researchers stress can cause such a significant shift in the bacterial balance in our gut that it can make us more likely to get sick.
To protect your microbiome from getting out of balance look for ways to reduce the stress in your life. If you need some help getting started, check out our special report 6 simple solutions to overcome worry and relieve stress.
5. Eat plenty of prebiotic fiber:
Probiotics are the good bacteria that keep you healthy, and prebiotics are the foods that keep them healthy. In other words, prebiotics are what probiotics eat in order to thrive.
Prebiotics are in a specific type of fiber that’s in many plant foods you’re probably already eating. For example, you’ll find plenty of prebiotics in bananas, onions, asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes. Eating more of these foods will feed your good belly bugs to help keep you healthy.
Get healthy and stay that way by using these five simple tips to carefully care for, and feed, your microbiome.