For those of you that don’t know, the microbiome is all the talk in the health world right now. The microbiome is all of the microbes and genes that live inside our body and mostly reside in our gut. If you have been hearing lots of talk about a “healthy guy” or “probiotics” recently it is because new studies have emerged showing just how powerful our gut is.
For example, we once thought that our genes (human genome) were the most important factor in determining our fate. If you mom had cancer, you are more likely to get cancer. If your dad had heart disease, you’re more likely to have a heart attack. BUT, what research is showing is that our genes are just a small part of this crazy puzzle.
The gut microbiome actually contains 100x more genes than our human genome – can you see how this could affect your health more than just your hereditary genes?
This research is all very new and exciting, and I’m glad to see large corporations like the Cleveland Clinic taking steps to better understand our bodies as a whole.
In October, the Cleveland Clinic released the findings of a new breast cancer study where they found that patients with breast cancer had much more pro-cancer bacteria in their gut, within their breast tissue, and could even be traced in their urine. These types of bacteria were not found in patients without cancer, indicating that the gut microbiome could possibly become a good indicator on whether someone will get cancer (or other diseases).
In other studies, the gut microbiome has been linked to other issues like autoimmune diseases, gluten intolerance, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and even allergies. Some people even are referring to the gut microbiome as the second brain – it’s really that important!
With all that being said, lets talk about how to get and maintain a healthy gut microbiome!
1. Greens, Greens, Greens
Acidic bodies are breeding grounds for bacteria. Nothing balances out acidity in our bodies like some green leafy vegetables. I know you’ve heard it a million times, but getting more greens is always on the top of my list.
2. Eliminate sugar and processed foods
I know you are busy, and I know processed foods are easy, but seriously, so yourself a favor and learn how to cook. I get it, its intimidating at first, but you have your whole life to continue learning! Check out my recipes for some healthy ideas.
3. Get dirty
Our obsession with sanitation is making us sick. Unless you work in a hospital or in close contact with sick people on a daily basis you do not need to carry around a bottle of Purel. Its actually beneficial to our microbiome to be exposed to bacteria and germs. Did you know that children with dogs have a lower risk of developing asthma and allergies? Not because they are exposed to a dog’s dander, but because dogs introduce a wider array of bacteria into their environment.
4. Eat Fermented foods
Kimchee, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha tea, yogurt and kefir (unsweetened please). There are tons of great options in the supermarket now, so no excuses!
5. Stress Less
When you are stressed your body naturally discharges steroids and adrenaline which makes your immune system release inflammatory cytokines. The microbiome helps keep our immune system in check, so when you’re stressed, your immune system is stressed, causing your gut to be stressed, which weakens the bacteria in our gut. So stop getting stressed and frazzled about everything! Easier said than done, but there are some great strategies to cope: meditation (my fave – try the Headspace or Breathe App), deep breathing, reading a book, taking a bath, going for a walk sans phone – whatever you do to relax, do that on a regular basis. If you’re chronically stressed at your job, consider why you are so stressed and if a move may be in your best (health) interest.
and be consistent with it. I put myself to bed like a baby – right on schedule every night. No iffs, ands, or butts. Start getting into a consistent nightly routine to wind down and help you relax before bed – and try to wake up at the same time everyday (yes, even the weekends). Our circadian rhythms have an immense effect on our gut health.
7. Sweat it out
If you know me, you know I love sweating for a number of reasons, but scientists have found that sweating actually makes our gut bugs happier. Physiological changes that result from exercise like influencing metabolism and altering immune function are known to affect the microbiota.
8. Consider more Plant-based meals
Consuming less red meat and animal products can be beneficial to your gut. These foods are highly acidic in the body and can cause inflammation and intestinal diseases. Studies have even shown that the microbiota of meat-eaters versus vegetarians and vegans produces more of a chemical that is associated with heart disease.
Food for thought…