Written by Melbourne Naturopath Bree Jenner
Our microbiome is a powerhouse of activity and plays so many roles in so many functions of our bodies (you can read more here). Whilst our body is pretty savvy at keeping the balance of bacteria in check through homeostasis, there are many dietary and lifestyle factors that can directly influence this balance. And when it comes to dietary and lifestyle factors… this is where you can make a huge and beneficial difference to your own health.
Our top 5 tips to nourish your microbiome include the following …
Drop the sugar.
Bacteria loves sugar and uses it as fuel wherever it can. By overfeeding the bacteria, it can lead to not only an imbalance of the type of bacteria (including pathogenic bacteria) in our gut environment, but an also cause an overgrowth of the ‘friendly’ bacteria, which can also cause digestive discomfort and other health issues. This overgrowth is referred to as Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO. Ditch the added sugar, and go easy on the natural sugars too. Often, your bacteria doesn’t see the difference.
Move your body.
Exercise is a great prebiotic (fuel that nourishes our beneficial bacteria – see our fibre tip below, too!), and those who exercise regularly have been found to have greater bacterial diversity within their gut microbiome.
Chronic stress can alter the environment that our friendly gut bacteria thrive in. Chronic stress increases our requirements for nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and calcium, and these nutrient deficiencies can promote an acidic environment that our body is constantly trying to balance. Different types of bacteria can take preference to a more alkaline or acidic environment, leading imbalance, or the bacteria moving into a new area where it doesn’t normally belong.
Stress can also effect the dietary and lifestyle choices we make in attempts to manage the stressful situation. We might find that we skip meals, choose sugary or nutrient-poor meals and snacks, increase our alcohol intake, or forget to chew our food.
Eat your fibre.
Fibre is the non-digestible part of fruits, vegetables and legumes that ferments in the large intestine during digestion. Our gut bacteria use this fermentation process as nourishment to help beneficial bacteria thrive. Prebiotic foods include green or under-ripe bananas, apple skin, onions, garlic, beans, asparagus, wholegrains and blueberries.
You can increase the diversity of your gut bacteria by including a small amount of a range of probiotic (fermented) foods in your diet on a regular basis (a few times a week). These foods include sauerkraut, yoghurt, kim chi, kombucha, kefir, tempeh and pickled vegetables. If your gut bacteria have been altered due to illness, medications, stress, pregnancy, changes in food or travel, certain strains or combinations of probiotics may be prescribed to help rebalance your microbiome.
If you’re looking to optimise your own individual gut microbiome, and need a kick start, head to the Book an Appointment page and book in for a Complimentary Chat with a Naturopathic Practitioner, or an Initial Consultation, and we can chat with you about how we can help you investigate the underlying cause of your symptoms and find your balance. The Health & Wellbeing Studio are now offering GI Mapping Testing (more information coming soon) that can offer you a road map to your gut health. GI Mapping is an amazing tool to help you and your naturopath get really specific into the balance of your gut bacteria and how it may be impacting your health. Have a look through our Wellness Blogs for more information, or get in touch today to find out more.
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For more information or for a tailored personalized plan chat to one of our Naturopaths
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