By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
March 30, 2022
In the past 15 to 20 years, what we’ve learned about the importance of the human gut microbiome is amazing.
Before that, we spent a lot of time demonizing the bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that hang out in our guts. We were wrong about so many things.
Back in the day…
We were at war against dirt. Now we know that kids who play outside and get dirty have more diverse gut microbiomes and build better immune systems than those who don’t. Infants who grow up with pets also have a higher diversity of microbes in their guts, a higher immune response and less chance of developing asthma and allergies. Same for kids growing up on a farm.
We thought the wombs of pregnant women were a sterile environment. But today we’re finding that the fetus is exposed to bacteria while still in the womb, and that the microbiome begins developing sometime during fetal development. So our initial microbiota basically starts out with whatever Mom had in her uterine microbiome. It passes from mother to child; and then with natural vaginal delivery the big boost on passing through the birth canal.
We handed out antibiotics with reckless abandon. All germs are bad, right? So it made sense to hand out an antibiotic whenever someone might have an infection, even a viral one that antibiotics have no efficacy against. Unfortunately, antibiotics disturb the delicate balance of your gut microbiota in a way that promotes obesity, metabolic disorders and autoimmune disease. Worse, overuse of antibiotics has resulted in a very serious worldwide public health problem: antibiotic resistance.
We were doing everything wrong, and now we are paying for it with our health.
How Important are the Bugs in Your Gut?
Thanks to advances in genome sequencing, we now know exactly how important all of those gut microbes are to our health.
The microbial community in our guts interact with virtually all human cells. It even has the ability communicate with your brain, and vice versa. It’s called the “gut-brain axis.”
For example, your gut bacteria manufacture about 90 percent of your body’s supply of serotonin. You’ve probably heard of this neurotransmitter before. Low levels of it are associated with stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue.
Your gut helps with the production of other brain chemicals too, like GABA, dopamine, norepinephrine and acetylcholine. All of these can affect your emotions, sleep patterns and stress levels.
So having plenty of “good” bugs in your gut can have a noticeable effect on your mental health and may even help you sleep better at night.
And did you know that those microbes can have an effect on your weight?
People who are overweight have specific changes in their microbiome that promote weight gain. But when people who are overweight change their microbiota with prebiotics and probiotics, they are able to lose weight and fat mass.
More importantly, serious health conditions like Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, immune disorders, metabolic disturbances, depression, chronic fatigue, heart disease, reduced brain function and arthritis can be all linked back to your gut microbiota.
So basically, your gut microbiome influences all aspects of health. And it may just be the key to a happier, leaner and healthier life.
7 Ways to Restore a Healthy Gut Microbiota
The most powerful influence on the gut microbiome is what you eat.
Artificial sweeteners. Commercial meats. Processed grains. Refined sugars. Dairy Products. Snacks. These are all common foods here in the U.S. It’s hard to avoid them. But every single one of them – and more – has a decidedly unhealthy effect on your gut microbes.
Here’s what I recommend:
Remove allergens like milk and wheat from your diet. If you aren’t a cow, why would you drink a cow’s milk? It’s a human allergen. And as far as wheat and other grains (such as barley and rye) are concerned, they contain gluten. Gluten triggers inflammation, alters the healthy balance of flora in your digestive tract and produces zonulin…a cause of “leaky gut”.
Avoid eating processed foods. This includes sugary, salty, fatty, fried foods and most products that come in a box or package. They will critically imbalance your gut microbiome in a few days!
Fill 85% of your plate with colorful fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods. The enzymes in organic fruits, vegetables and beans promote the growth of healthy bacteria. In fact, people who eat the most of these foods have a much healthier diversity of gut microbiota.
Eat more fermented foods. They’re a great source of natural probiotics that feed your gut. Kimchi, miso, natto, kefir, tempeh and sauerkraut are all fermented foods.
Don’t eat conventionally raised meats and other animal products. These animals are dosed with antibiotics, so the drugs will pass along to you. Instead, opt for organic grass-fed, pasture-raised and wild-caught animal products and keep them to a maximum of about 15% of your overall diet.
Don’t take antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary. They destroy whole populations of bacteria. This can change the balance of your immune system and decrease vitamin B production. NSAID pain relievers, proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics and other medications can also ruin your microbiota.
Add a good probiotic to your daily regimen. Look for a formula that contains a prebiotic along with lactobacillus, bifidobacteria and other strains of healthy bacteria. The higher the colony count, and the more live strains involved, the better off you’ll be. Just make sure to take it at bedtime.
Remember. If you look after your gut, it will look after you!
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