Nurturing Your Gut Microbiome

herbal medicine

You probably know that your body is filled with many bacteria and other tiny organisms. Although there are disease-causing bacteria that you want to avoid, others help the body perform important functions and even prevent illness.

The innumerable bacteria in your gut are essential for promoting healthy digestion and warding off conditions like irritable bowel disease. The collection of these gut bacteria is called a gut microbiome, and for many reasons outlined in this article, you’ll be glad they exist.

What Is the Gut Microbiome?

Your gut microbiome consists of the bacteria and other microorganisms (or microbes) that live in the “pocket” of your large intestine called the cecum. Your gut microbiome contains 300-500 species of bacteria, most of which are beneficial to your overall health.

Why Does My Gut Microbiome Matter?

Thinking about tiny microbes living in your gut may be unsettling, but millions of years of evolution have allowed humans to live with them. In fact, since before birth, your body has benefited from the growth of gut microbes in the following ways:

  • Blood sugar control: A diverse gut microbiome can reduce the risk of diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes in children.
  • Brain health: Researchers have found that gut microbes influence the central nervous system, affecting cognitive function and even mood/depression.
  • Cardiovascular health: Healthy gut bacteria can promote HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and lower triglycerides, decreasing your heart disease risk.
  • Breast milk digestion: Typically, babies have Bifidobacteria that grow inside their intestines. These bacteria break down the healthy sugar in breast milk, which is essential for growth.
  • Fiber digestion: When you eat foods rich in fiber, bacteria in your gut produce short-chain fatty acids, which are essential for preventing weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
  • Immunity promotion: Your gut microbiome communicates with immune cells to protect your body against infection.

Maintaining a Healthy Gut Microbiome

Bloating, cramps, and uncomfortable bowel movements can make daily living uncomfortable. Watching what you eat can keep your gut healthy and decrease the likelihood of irritable bowel disease and other gut-related conditions. The key is to consume foods that promote beneficial microbes. For example, probiotics and yogurt (goat milk if cow dairy sensitive) containing Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli strengthen intestinal cells, preventing leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome.

Consider incorporating more of these foods into your diet:

  • Sauerkraut, rich in probiotics and fiber
  • Miso, a Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans, barley, or rice
  • Tempeh, a fermented soybean product
  • Pickles fermented in brine
  • Fiber-rich foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables
  • Prebiotic-rich foods, such as garlic, onions, leeks, bananas, asparagus, and artichokes
  • Fermented cheeses, like gouda and cheddar
  • Bone broth, for its collagen
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon

Gut Health Support from Nutritional Counseling Nearby

As previously mentioned, your gut health affects not only what goes in your gastrointestinal tract but also the rest of your body. Therefore, caring for your gut microbiome can improve your overall health and enhance your daily living.

Finding ways to nourish your gut microbiome doesn’t mean doing it alone. You can get help from a local nutrition counselor at Blatman Health and Wellness Center. When you schedule a consultation, they’ll work to understand your digestive issues and health goals. They’ll also help you formulate a diet and treatment plan to get your gut back on track.

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