The gastrointestinal tract (aka the gut) is composed of trillions upon trillions of live microorganisms commonly referred to as the gut microbiota. The gut microbiota has a very important job of keeping us healthy by fighting off bad bacteria and aiding in digestion. A healthy, diverse gut microbiota is related to good overall mental and physical health. An imbalance or lack of microbiota diversity has been associated with an array of issues and chronic disease states such as…
Everyone is different and everyone’s gut microbiota is different, and there are a number of factors that can affect the gut microbiota including age, gender, stress, hydration, and diet. Using antibiotics can also have a major effect on microbiota. Yes, I believe in modern medicine and understand that antibiotics play an important role in the treatment of certain illnesses by working to kill harmful bacteria. But one negative side effect of antibiotics is that they can also kill much of the good bacteria in our gut, which disrupts the balance and diversity the microbiota.
Interestingly, the way you were brought into this world has a lot to do with the make up of your gut microbiota. Research shows that babies born vaginally as opposed to a c-section birth have more diverse microbiota due to passing through the birth canal. This is great food for thought if you are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant. Disclaimer: I know for some woman delivery method is not an option. This is not to make you feel guilty, but instead to keep you informed! No judgement zone here!
Get this... your own gut microbiota is always changing! This is great, because this means you can alter your gut microbiota for the better by increasing diversity, which boosts overall health. Here are some easy things we can do to increase the good bacteria and promote diversity of our own microbiota.
Get outside! Play in the dirt! Weed your flower beds! Travel! By exposing yourself to different environments and new bacteria, you can increase your gut microbiota. You don’t have to travel around the world (although if you can, go for it!). Even traveling to a neighboring town will increase exposure.
2. The Foods We Eat
There are many foods that contain natural live cultures commonly known as probiotics. These foods include yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir, komboucha, kimchi, tempeh, and sauerkraut. But don’t forget the prebiotics! Prebiotics are fiber that act as food for probiotics. It is important when incorporating probiotics into your diet to make sure your prebiotic intake is adequate so your efforts are not wasted. Common prebiotic rich foods include but are not limited to bananas, garlic, onions, leeks, berries, honey, asparagus, and leafy greens.
I recommend focusing on real food for incorporating probiotics into your diet. However, there are certain instances when I would recommend a probiotic supplement. For example, if you’re having a bout of gastrointestinal distress like diarrhea or if you or your child is prescribed antibiotics, you may choose to supplement with probiotics before, during, and after.
The ONE3ONE Diet program that I have helped create is primarily focused on GUT HEALTH. If we marketed it as a "clean your gut" program, no one would join, but trust me, if you are interested in healing your gut, the 131 is where you should be!
3. The Stress We Encounter
Stress will wreak havoc on your gut. Easier said than done to decrease stress levels, trust me, I know, but decreasing your stress is an important part of the gut healing process.
4. Your Supplements
Items I recommend to help with gut healing include:
5. Removing Food Triggers
The foods you may be eating on a regular basis could be causing your gut lining added inflammation. Added inflammation to your gut = damage to the lining of your gut = intestinal permeability = leaky gut= feeling crappy, brain for, sluggish, upset stomach, added stress, anxiety, etc. Review the "what is inflammation?" article I wrote.
6. Fecal matter transplants
This is really an area of cutting edge research and for those with severe digestive disorders. You have an imagination so I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details. Basically, it is when the gut microbiota from an overall healthy person is transplanted into the gut of a maybe not so healthy person. Fecal matter transplants are in the experimental phase and currently only performed as a part of research studies. Likely in the future there will be much more to come and plenty research to review on this topic. I doubt you'll go searching to have this done, but I want you to know about all areas of gut health, and this is really an exciting new area of research!
Jandhyala, Sai Manasa, Rupjyoti Talukdar, Chivkula Subramanyam, Harish Vuyyuru, Mitnala Sasikala, and D. Nageshwar Reddy. "Role of the normal gut microbiota." World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG. Baishideng Publishing Group Inc, 07 Aug. 2015. Web. 16 June 2017
What is FMT? (2017). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://thefecaltransplantfoundation.org/what-is-fecal-transplant/
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