What is the Gut Microbiome?
Written by: Alexandria Muirhead, R.H.N.
The gut microbiome is a collection of good and bad bacteria that live in our digestive system with the majority being in our large intestines. There are actually more bacteria then there are cells in our body, approximately 10 bacteria for every 1 cell! They help us digest the food we eat, modulate our immune system, make vitamins such as vitamin K, B12, riboflavin and thiamine. Our gut microbiome affects our weight, our brain and when out of balance, is associated with autoimmune diseases such as Crohns, SLE, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, fibromyalgia, etc. They even have an effect on our gene expression and activity. There are only a few of the things that the gut microbiome effectsIt is a super powerful part of us that we can have a positive effect on with some simple lifestyle, diet and mindset modifications.
Symptoms of Dysbiosis? (Unbalanced Gut Microbiome)
There are a wide range of symptoms since our gut is connected to our entire body. These symptoms can show up in our brains, nervous system and even our skin! Some symptoms include;
- Brain Fog
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Upset Stomach
- Sore Joints
- Allergies; environment or food
How can we Positively Change our Gut Microbiome?
We can begin to positively impact our gut microbiome which in turn affects our health on so many different levels.
- Increase Fiber and Decrease Refined Sugar
We can do this by eating whole foods with fiber and reducing our consumption of refined sugar. Fiber is our friend and nothing to be scared of. It helps regulate our bowel movements and feeds our good bacteria. Vegetables, nuts and seeds are excellent sources of fiber! Sugar has a negative effect on our gut microbiome and the more processed and refined sugar we eat the more and more depleted and out of balance it gets. Switching to all natural sweeteners such as real maple syrup, raw & local honey, coconut sugar or date sugar will help to minimize the negative effects. This also means being aware of what you are consuming and how much sugar it has in it. Sugar is sneaky and can be found in things you would never think of like Windsor Iodized Salt! Sugar is the third ingredient in our table salt. Getting rid of the sneaky exposures to sugar will help you maintain a healthy gut microbiome balance. Anything you eat that has an ingredient list you should read the ingredient list and review it to make sure you want to be putting that into your body.
- Daily Movement
Movement and exercise is linked to having beneficial effects on our gut microbiome. Studies are showing the connection between daily movement having an anti-inflammatory effect and balancing the gut microbiome. Any movement is better than no movement. Find what you love and what feels good to your body. It can be walking, yoga, biking, working out, running, jogging or any sport! If you find movement that you enjoy you will want to keep doing it every day!1.
Our bodies and all of our cells are listening to what we are thinking and saying. Positive affirmations and gratitude are a wonderful way to help shape your gut microbiome. We live in a society that has a lot of harsh and strict judgements on what beauty is, leaving many people feeling less than beautiful. These beauty constructs are simply not ture and you need to begin to believe it for yourself and begin to love your body. This also incorporates believing your body can heal. Our bodies want to be in balance, it is called homeostasis. Our bodies want to heal and repair and be vibrant and in balance. Given the right conditions our bodies will begin to restore this balance!
I hope you have learned something about your gut microbiome! Please feel free to reach out to share your experience or stories with me!
Cook MD, Allen JM, Pence BD, et al. Exercise and gut immune function: evidence of alterations in colon immune cell homeostasis and microbiome characteristics with exercise training. Immunol Cell Biol. 2016;94(2):158-163. doi:10.1038/icb.2015.108
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