The makings of a Healthy Gut Microbiota
February 23, 2021
Many years ago, I first became interested in the gut microbiome when I read an article associating a poorly diversified gut microbiome to weight gain and obesity. The article noted that there is “compelling evidence for an important role of the gut microbiota in the development and perpetuation of obesity.” After reading this, the questions of what is the gut microbiome and how can I improve mine lingered. After consistent studying and research, I will answer these questions, among others, in this blog.
The microbes or microbiota in your gut consist primarily of bacteria, fungi, yeast, and viruses. The term “microbiome” refers to these organisms that make their home in your intestines. Your gut microbiome starts to develop as soon as you are born, initially populating with a diversity of organisms from the birth canal, breast milk, and anything a baby touches. The microbiota plays an important role in your overall well being. This well established symbiotic relationship between mammals and the microbiota contributes directly to gut related reactions such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, and malabsorption of nutrients. It affects other areas of the body indirectly as well, contributing to joint pains, fatigue, brain fog, acne, rosacea, mood disorders, and weight gain just to name a few. I see these effects clinically on a daily basis but they’re also supported in literature. Good microbiota has been associated with improving the intestinal wall lining, helping with absorption of nutrients and minerals, and in the synthesis of vitamins.
Your diet is the one thing that can effect your gut microbiome today and have lasting, positive effects if you are consistent in your eating patterns. Consultation in our office begins with a full workup, ruling out many causes of poor gut microbiota. This process includes looking for infections, getting off medications like antibiotics and acid reducers, establishing a whole-foods diet, alleviating stress, and reducing toxic exposure. Most importantly, we always focus on diet as a crucial first step. So the main focus and purpose of this blog is to review my top dietary must haves for the formation of a great microbiome. Advanced specialized functional medicine testing looking at infectious causes and food sensitivities as part of a full workup that can be done with consultation at beingfunctional.com.
1. Increase your intake of prebiotic foods
– Prebiotic foods are what your microbes eat
– Foods naturally high in fiber, such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes, are naturally high prebiotic foods
– How to incorporate prebiotic foods into your diet:
– Eat a daily salad incorporating organic spring salad mix (Arugula, red leaf lettuce, spinach, radicchio, dandelion, kale, etc.), tomatoes, onions, olives, beans, and a digestive happy ginger dressing
– Roasted veggie combination of Jerusalem artichokes, sweet potato, yellow/red beets, and onions.
– An easy to make lentil soup or chili
2. Eat Probiotic rich food
– Fermented veggies – green or red cabbage, carrots, cucumber, celery, onions, garlic, ginger, peppers, and radishes.
– Kimchi with spicy cabbage and carrots.
– Homemade fermented pickles.
– Non-dairy based yogurt or kefir
– Kombucha fermented black or green tea drink (make sure to watch the sugar content).
3. Limit or avoid processed foods, foods high in added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and trans fats.
I frequently tell my patients to limit their intake of foods that come prepared in a box or bag and shop mostly the outside of grocery store isles.
4. Limit or avoid foods that you are sensitive to such as gluten, dairy, and eggs.
Keeping a food diary will really help in finding your food sensitivity. If you have bloating after eating certain foods, it’s best to stay away from them. At beingfunctional.com, we will most likely start a therapeutic diet as well as potentially assess for food sensitivity with advance functional medicine testing.
5. Take antibiotics, acid reducers, and NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) only
While on antibiotics, be extra vigilant about taking probiotics nightly on an empty stomach.