The microbiome consists of TRILLIONS of living microbes inside your gut. These little mood elevators work around the clock producing happy-chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Making sure that you have a diverse and thriving microbiome can help not only with your mental health, but can prevent things like the urge to over-eat, and can help regulate your digestive system.
Below, we have compiled a list of ways you can ensure that you have a happy and healthy microbiome!
Especially the leafy green ones! Vegetables are loaded with fibres, which cannot be digested by people but are consumed by the good bacteria in your gut. It has been observed that people who follow a diet rich with fruits and vegetables are less likely to grow disease-causing bacteria. Some great examples of vegetables that feed your microbes are:
You’re sweet enough already! Fast digesting sugars, otherwise known as Monnosaccarides, are digested so quickly that your little microbes don’t get a chance to take a bite out of them! If you eat too many simple sugars too regularly, you run the risk of literally starving your microbiome to death. Additionally, hungry microbes will resort to munching away at the lining in your intestine, which can lead to inflammation. Try to alter your diet to include more foods with complex sugars, to ensure a happy and healthy microbiome. Here’s a list of some sweet foods that will keep both you and your gut happy!
Also make sure you keep out an eye for dreaded hidden sources of monosaccharides. Sugar can sneak into foods you would never expect them to be. Keep an eye on sugar levels in things like smoothies, nut butters, protein bars, salad dressings and even in a gut-favourite… yogurt!
Probiotics are chock-full of live bacteria that will help ensure your gut is populated by mostly the good types of microbes. You can get a good probiotic supplement at your local health food store, however, make sure you ask your doctor what strains of cultures are best for you, as each person’s microbiome is different. There are many probiotic products out there that claim to have live cultures but do not, so it is important to do your research beforehand. For example, Align is a great brand of probiotic for people who suffer from IBS.
If probiotics are your gut’s best friend, then Antibiotics are your gut’s worst enemy!
Antibiotics work buy wiping out any and all bacteria, which makes them very effective for treating illnesses, but very bad for your microbiome. The antibiotic cannot recognize the difference between good gut bacteria and bad bacteria. They work on a ‘kill now ask questions later’ model. Try to buy meat products that were raised without antibiotics, and if you do have to take an antibiotic to treat a virus, make sure to take a probiotic daily for the duration of your prescription to help replenish your gut bacteria.
Prebiotics are food for your microbiome! It’s important to feed these little guys to give them the energy they need to complete their very important task of managing your enteric nervous system. Here is a list of dietary prebiotics that should be staples in your home kitchen:
Fermented foods are another great source of probiotics. The crowd favourite is yogurt, however, if you’re going to be eating a lot of yogurt, make sure that it is sugar-free! There are several other options that are a great source of good bacteria. Kombucha is becoming a very popular source of probiotics. You can also eat things like pickles, kimchee, and kefir to ensure that you’re getting enough live cultures to keep your gut healthy and happy.
Aside from the fact that these days, many meat brands are known for raising their livestock with antibiotics, which is detrimental to your gut, there have been several studies that show healthier microbiomes in vegetarians. A vegetarian’s gut for example, will have a significantly smaller number of disease-causing bacteria that an omnivore’s gut. However, it is still unclear if this is due to the lack of meat being consumed, or the fact that vegetarians and plant-based individuals tend to consume a great deal more fibre than the average person.
Getting enough rest is so important! Studies have shown that people with erratic sleeping patterns run the risk of disrupting their microbiome and running the risk of developing inflammatory diseases. Try to make sure that you get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
Your microbes feel that if they’re working hard to keep you healthy, then you should be working hard too! The microbiomes of physically active people are more healthy and diverse. It also has to be said that one of the best ways to de-stress after a long day is by working out. Even just walking for 30 minutes a day could really impact your gut health, and help these little microbes continue to make sure that your stress levels are managed and your mental health stays intact.
Say ‘no’ more often, explore meditation, mindfulness, yoga, or tai. Establishing balance in your life will support your mental and emotional health and optimize your gut and overall health. Stress can negatively affect your microbiome and you need a healthy microbiome to manage help you manage your stressors. If you’re not careful, and you may get caught in an unhealthy cycle if you do not give yourself time to re-energize.