It’s important to remember not all germs/bugs/bacteria are created equal. That’s right, we said it! Not all germs are bad! Welcome to the gut microbiome. Good microbes are essential to our overall health, affecting everything from our quality of sleep, to our hormones to our mood. In fact, our resident microbes are so important that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent $140 million on the Human Microbiome Project (similar to the human genome project) to assess how changes in the microbiome correlate with disease.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MICROBES
Let’s consider the long historical relationship we have with microbes, because lucky for us and our gut, good microbes are contagious too! The short story is that when we take care of them, they take care of us. It’s a symbiotic relationship!
Having a diverse array of microbes in our gut, makes our immune system stronger, our digestive system more effective, our hormones balanced, vitamin/mineral absorption more successful and even makes our mood HAPPIER. Let’s dive into why this is.
THE GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION
There exists bidirectional communication between our gut and the brain through several mechanisms, one being our gut microbes. In fact, the relationship between the two is SO apparent that many scientists actually refer to our gut as our body’s “second brain”. Did you know that 90% of our serotonin is actually produced in our digestive tract, not our brain?
A study out of the journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience showed that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters implicated in mood/happiness levels. These included dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and GABA, all of which can affect mood, anxiety, happiness, concentration and motivation. When it comes to a balanced brain, exposure and presence of good bacteria are actually completely necessary. (We test these good bacteria levels in our FUNC MED programs!)
It’s important not to live in fear of all microbes, especially when it comes to our gut microbiome. This includes not “over-doing it” with toxic disinfectants, chemical cleaning agents and hand sanitizers, which have been shown to have a deep and lasting impact on the microbiome. There are over 1000 species of bacteria in the gut, and over 7000 subspecies in there to protect us!
Even our skin also has its own microbiome with its own ecosystem of bugs. Just like our gut, there are good guys and bad guys hanging around on our hands – The thing with hand sanitizers is in killing off the bad bugs, they take our good, protective bugs out with them in the process (just like when we take antibiotics).
5 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR GUT BUGS IN CHECK
Moral of the story: Humans have been evolving and interacting with friendly microbes for thousands of years. Not all germs are bad. As the world slowly reopens and summer kicks into gear… remember, we did not live in a completely sterile world before. Wash hands with common sense, don’t overdo it on the disinfectant use in the home, take care of your GUT and all its friendly inhabitants! In other words, when our gut is happy, we are happy! Pretty cool, right?
GUT MICROBIOME HEALTH TIP 1:
MAKE SURE THERE’S DIVERSITY IN YOUR DIET
When it comes to food, our microbes looove diversity! We want to aim for lots of colourful fruits and vegetables (think the colours of the rainbow). Think different flavours too (like bitter greens, sour blueberries, sweet peppers) and so on. The more (diversity) the merrier. What this means: don’t have the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner – Switch it up!
GUT MICROBIOME HEALTH TIP 2:
EAT RESISTANT STARCHES
Another big one we always preach here at TMB! The starches in these foods act as prebiotics, meaning that they become food for our good gut bacteria to thrive on which in turn, aids digestion and reduces inflammation in your body.
Rather than being digested in the small intestine, resistant starch is processed by your gut bacteria, and when these bugs flourish, they can: produce vitamins, help us excrete toxins, produce neurotransmitters and create healing compounds that fight inflammatory triggers. WIN!
Some examples include cooled white rice, small coloured potatoes, sweet potatoes, artichokes, peas, green bananas, plantains, lentils and beans.
GUT MICROBIOME HEALTH TIP 3:
Moving your body is powerful, so we should make sure we’re moving daily! Studies show that regular exercise modifies our gut bugs with positive health effects, meaning it can help keep the ratio of good bacteria in our favour. BONUS: When we exercise, we can also sweat, which is one of the main ways our body detoxifies!
GUT HEALTH TIP 4:
USE MINDFULNESS TO REDUCE STRESS
Anyone else feel like there’s a lot less YIN energy in the air lately and a lot to feel anxious about? To keep our stress in check, it’s important to prioritize mindful yin activities that help tone our nervous system.
That is, things like meditating, breath work, journaling, spending time in nature or another activity that calms your mind and body. It’s a two way street. Stress can negatively affect your microbiome, and you also need a healthy microbiome help you manage your stressors!
GUT HEALTH TIP 5:
LESS SUGAR, COFFEE AND ALCOHOL
We hate to be the bearer of bad news… But diets high in sugar refined carbs, caffeine, and alcohol can cause an imbalance in the gut bacteria that are associated with inflammation and risk for disease. Sugar, for example, literally feeds BAD bacteria (including candida) which has been associated with everything from skin issues to mood swings.
If you’re going to be drinking coffee or wine, limit your consumption and opt for organic (or biodynamic for the vino). P.S: We’re not necessarily saying “none” – we’re saying less.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR GUT AND IT WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
If you want to revamp your gut health but need some guidance, our GUT FEELINGS module is for you! A 30 day program that includes the full support of a functional health coach teaches you the foundations of how to rebuild your gut health, get your digestion back on track and mitigate your symptoms.
BOOK YOUR FREE CONSULT WITH TMB TODAY!
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