By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
February 16, 2018
- Is your gut making you sick?
- Feed this “forgotten organ” for health and longevity
- Give it some exercise, too!
You can’t see your heart. Still, you try to take good care of it.
You can’t see your brain, either. However, that doesn’t stop you from trying to ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
But what do you do for your gut?
This is a question I often ask my patients. And most of them just shake their heads. They have no idea what the answer is. After all, unless you experience heartburn, an upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation, you probably don’t pay much attention to it.
These days the gut microbiome is often referred to as the “forgotten organ”. And for good reason.
What most people don’t realize is that a good balance of healthy microbes in the gut doesn’t just improve digestion. It also helps prevent many of today’s most common health disorders – heart disease, chronic fatigue, depression, obesity, diabetes, cognitive impairment and more.
Plus, the bulk of your immune system lies there, too.
So it’s in your best interest to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep it in top-notch working condition.
Feed Your “Forgotten Organ” for Heath and Longevity
Not surprisingly, people over the age of 90 who are “ridiculously healthy” have a gut microbiome similar to that of a healthy 30-year old. Thus, it makes good sense to maintain a healthy microbiome throughout your lifetime.
Eating the right foods is a given. In particular, everyone should enjoy a wide assortment of fresh, organic plant-based foods daily. This includes vegetables, beans, fruits and nuts. Folks who eat the most of these foods have a much healthier diversity of gut microbiota.
I’m also a big fan of fermented foods. They’re an excellent source of natural probiotics that fuel the colonization of healthy bacteria in your gut. Kimchi, miso, natto, kefir, tempeh, kombucha and sauerkraut all fall into this category.
Just as importantly is what you shouldn’t eat. Refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, commercial meats, certain grains, dairy products and processed foods will all destroy the delicate balance of your gut microbiota.
Since these are all common foods here in the U.S., it’s no wonder so many Americans are obese, diabetic, depressed, fatigued and suffering from heart disease!
Given these distressing facts, it’s always a good idea to fuel all of those healthy bugs in your gut with the foods they need to flourish and avoid chomping down on foods that will encourage colonization of the unhealthy microbes.
There is also one more thing you can do.
A Little Exercise is Good for the Gut
It turns out that exercise can have a very positive influence on the composition and activity of your gut microbes – even if you don’t always eat as well as you should.
In an interesting experiment, a team of researchers recruited 18 lean and 14 obese people to analyze the effect of exercise on gut microbiota. At the start of the analysis, the composition of gut microbiota was very different between the two groups.
But after six weeks of 30 to 60-minute exercise sessions three times a week – without any dietary changes – there were no microbiome differences between the lean vs. obese groups.
Not only that, but the exercise training led to a decrease in body fat, higher lean mass, improved bone density and improved cardio fitness.
I’d say that is a big win all the way around!
I advocate participating in a particular type of exercise called high intensity interval training, or HIIT for short. It’s basically a supercharged combination of short, intense aerobic activities and strength training – but takes less than a half hour per session.
You can check out this earlier issue of Advanced Natural Wellness to discover how you can get the most benefit from your HIIT workouts. It even includes a sample 6-day workout to help get you started.
Keep in mind that, as important as your gut health is, good food and a healthy exercise program also supports every cell, organ, neurotransmitter and hormone that makes your body thrive.
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Buford TW. (Dis)Trust your gut: the gut microbiome in age-related inflammation, health, and disease. Microbiome 2017 5:80.
Noble EE, et al. Gut to Brain Dysbiosis: Mechanisms Linking Western Diet Consumption, the Microbiome, and Cognitive Impairment. Front Behav Neurosci. 2017; 11: 9.
‘Ridiculously healthy’ elderly have the same gut microbiome as healthy 30 year-olds. News Release. University of Western Ontario. Oct 2017.
Davis SC, et al. Understanding the Nutritional Needs of the Gut Microbiota. J Hum Nutr Food Sci. 2016;4(1):1079.
Allen JM, et al. Exercise Alters Gut Microbiota Composition and Function in Lean and Obese Humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 Nov 20. Epub ahead of print.