Gut Microbiome

Let’s talk about your microbiome aka your gut bacteria.  Your body is a home to trillions of tiny creatures that are too small for the naked eye to see.  I once read the analogy of bacteria creating a garden in your gut.  I like this analogy because a garden is filled with all sorts of bugs.  It’s a symbiotic match made in heaven – they need us to survive and we benefit tremendously from them inhabiting our guts.  The health of the inner garden you are growing in your gut will be determined by what you are feeding it with the foods you eat.

Did you know that we are made up of more bacterial DNA than your own human DNA?  Another thing that I think reflects how very important our gut flora is and why we need to flourish our gut with lots of good ‘bugs.’

Did you know… Your gut contains a few POUNDS and over 500 species of bacteria?!

Most people are unaware that the bacteria in our gut plays a VERY large role in your health.  Therefore, it’s important to get your gut bacteria healthy – if your bacteria are sick, so are you!

Since a lot can be said on this topic, for this blog’s purpose we will keep things simple.

What are some of the roles that our gut bacteria do?

They help with digestion.  Our gut microbes jump in and lend a hand when our stomach or small intestine are unable to digest certain foods we eat.   With that said, you could think about the bacteria in our colons as a 2nd stomach or digestive enzyme system that help further breakdown food thus helping us to absorb nutrients that would have been missed.

Gut bacteria work with the immune system and help it grow and develop as well as help fight bacteria and other infections.

They keep other microorganisms in check.  A strong population of healthy bacteria will make it hard for bad bacteria and fungi (yeasts) to grow.

Gut bacteria thrive on what you feed them.  Feed or fertilize your inner garden with healthy whole, fresh foods so that they can thrive.  Back in the day, people had to preserve their foods by fermentation/pickling, etc. and what that did is produced lots of good bacteria to help preserve the food.  So instead of adding preservatives to the food like we do now, it’s a natural preservation technique and it works great along with the many health benefits that come along with it!  Many of us don’t preserve our foods that way anymore and unfortunately, we eat foods that are hindering our gut bacteria.  We will address this in a future post when I talk about sugar, GMOs, etc.

I first and foremost like to recommend eating foods to help get good bacteria into your body.  Anything that you can lacto-ferment is a great start!  Here is a short list I have put together:

  • Lacto-fermented foods
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Kvass
  • Yogurt (preferably made on your own). Commercial yogurts are typically full of sugars.

I prefer people make their foods at home if possible.  This gives you control of what you add and how you prefer the taste.  I don’t want to forget mentioning the enormous amounts of bacteria you will get!  Here is a link to Dr. Mercola’s post on Fermented Foods for additional information:

In addition to increasing the diet with probiotic-rich foods, it’s also usually a good idea to supplement with probiotics daily.  This is out of the norm that I feel a supplement is good in addition to dietary change however that’s how strongly I feel a gut full of healthy bacteria is for everyone!  Shopping for probiotics can be challenging because let’s face it, there are so many out there.  This is a good place to address this – Not all probiotics (or supplements in general) are created equal!  Please read that again.  If you need help with finding a probiotic that is right for you, I would be happy to help.  There are many different strains of bacteria and some strains are more effective at supporting the body in specific ways.

I would like to mention and address one last thing.  If you are starting to eat or supplement with probiotics for the first time, it’s best to start slow.  When you start putting in good bacteria into your gut – they’re going to start to kill any bad bacteria you may have.  When the bad bacteria die, they can release their own endotoxins.  This means you might feel some detox reactions when you start, making you feel a little crummy before you start to feel better.

To discuss you or your family’s health or for more information about functional medicine and testing, contact our office to make an appointment for a consultation.

In good health,

Dr. Stephanie

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