How our gut can help us with long term disease prevention.
Most of us don't think too much about our gut. Yes, It digests our food, but most of the time it doesn’t seem to be very flattering, right? Perhaps it's time to reconsider our attitude. Recent research has shown that the gut has many surprising functions that are critical to almost every aspect of our health and wellbeing.
The unseen star of the show is our microbiome : a 4-5 pound community of bacteria, fungi, and yeast. With 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells in the body, each of us is more like an ecosystem. Here are just a few of how this ecosystem helps you stay healthy:
Regulating immune function: Beneficial gut bacteria “calm down” immune cells, which is critical for long term health. An imbalanced microbiome (dysbiosis) can result in chronic inflammation - a constantly triggered immune system! This plays a major role in chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, leaky gut and many more.
Metabolism: An imbalanced microbiome is linked to overweight and obesity. Particularly responsible is an overgrowth in Firmicutes while reducing the fiber consuming bacteroidetes. Not only do Firmicutes extract more calories from the same foods, but also promote the onset of chronic inflammation, which cues the body to hold on to excess weight; our body's ancient protective mechanism in the state of emergency.
Neurotransmitters: Many of the brain chemicals needed to feel calm, energized, focused and optimistic are in fact made by gut bacteria, including up to 90% of our serotonin! Mental ailments and mood disorders can therefore hardly be treated without taking the gut into consideration.
Hormone balance: Critical for producing and regulating our hormones, the microbiome has profound effects on our mood, sleep, stress response and appetite. Imbalanced microbes mean imbalanced hunger hormones, which lead to overpowering food cravings and weight gain. A poorly functioning microbiome is often behind the rampant estrogen dominance seen today, which can cause many problems from infertility to low libido and PMS.
It is incredible but true: the microbiome is a key player when it comes to our health – and supporting the “good guys” is critical for long term disease prevention.
Here are some simple tips for diet and lifestyle adjustments:
4 Substances that Wreck Beneficial Bacteria and cause Inflammation:
Processed food: processed sugar & carbs (especially gluten) imbalance the microbiome, cause inflammation and also contribute to swings in mood and energy.
Trans fats: these are often used in processed food and baked goods and spike inflammation.
Chemicals in toxic antibacterial household cleaners wipe out bacteria and reduces our own resilience.
Overuse of antibiotics destroys the microbiome – antibiotics are a powerful tool, but you need to be aware of their consequences and plan accordingly.
Fortunately, you can easily rebuild your microbiome. Most important here is to eat real food, and avoid processed artificial food-like substances!
Whole, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetable provide great conditions for beneficial bacteria to thrive.
Fermented foods like real pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, homemade yogurt and miso as well as probiotic supplements are rich with beneficial bacteria that that help re-populate our microbiome and help our internal ecosystem flourish.
And remember, it doesn't need to be all or nothing. Health is a journey, and any step in the right direction makes the next one even easier.
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