How to boost your microbiome

Are you struggling to sleep, feeling anxious or gaining weight? If so, case then all might not be well with the microbiome in your gut. Here’s how you can fix it.

If you want a healthy gut it’s all about the microbes. These depend on the right nutrients from our diet to grow strong and keep all those bad bacteria at bay. Unfortunately, many of us are not getting the right nutrients in our diet to provide what our gut needs to keep us healthy and strong.

Why a good microbiome is important
Your gut’s microbiome is crucial to the function of your body. At any one time, your gut is home to 40 trillion bacteria. Some of them are good and can be incredibly important to your health. Others are not so healthy and can lead to all sorts of disease. To stay fit, you’ll need to maintain the correct balance in your gut. This depends on your lifestyle and your diet.

Keep a diverse diet
Diversity is the spice of life and this is certainly true when it comes to the stuff you put in your body. A diverse diet can lead to a more diverse microbiota within your gut which, in turn, will lead to better health. However, western societies are not that good at keeping things diverse. It’s full of fat and sugar and, according to studies, 75% of our food comes from just 12 species of plants and five animal species.

However, in more rural regions, diets also tend to be a bit more diverse, so we can take a leaf out of their book and bring variety into our diet.

Eat good stuff
That means adding different types of food into what we eat, especially vegetables, legumes, fruit and beans. Fruit is high in fibre and are full of healthy microbes. While your body can’t digest the fibre, your microbes can and they help keep your digestive system in decent working order.

Embrace the polyphenols
You’ll hear a lot of talk about anti-oxidants. One of the best for your gut comes in the form of polyphenols. These act as fuel for the good bacteria in your stomach and can be found in nuts, seeds, berries, brassicas, coffee and teas. In particular, if you can add a few cups of green tea each day into your diet, you’ll quickly feel the benefits.

Eat live microbes
Fermented food such as unsweetened yoghurt, kefir, raw milk and cheeses contain lots of live microbes which can help build a rich and varied microbiome in your gut. Another great dish to try is Kimchi, which is made from cabbage, chilli and garlic as well as any soybean-based product. Yoghurts have been shown to reduce the amount of bacteria which can lead to irritable bowel syndrome and reduce lactose intolerance. In short, packing your diet with lots of good live microbes can do wonders.

If you’re not getting everything you need through your diet, supplements can help. Adding things such as vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium can improve your gut balance, help with mood and reduce the prevalence of free radicals which can lead to all sorts of unpleasant diseases.

What not to do
Artificial foods containing chemicals can be a good idea. Stay away from artificial sweeteners, such as those in diet soft drinks. These have been marketed as helping with weight loss by reducing the amount of sugar in our diet. However, these can have negative impacts on gut bacteria such as increasing sugar levels and harming your insulin response.
Snacking is also perilous. It can upset the balance in your gut especially if you’re binging on foods which are high in fat and sugars.

Unfortunately, these are bad habits many of us fall into all too easily. However, that’s largely because we don’t understand the complex biology happening in our gut. Once we do, we can start putting the right things into our body to transform our microbiomes, improve our health and put us in a much better mood.

Image credit: By Extarz / Shutterstock,  anna-pelzer-IGfIGP5ONV0 / unsplash and ready made /  Pexels

The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.