Gut Health Series...Nourishing Your Microbiome

The gut healing process continues. Now that we have removed the things that are harming our gut and restored the normal function of the digestive system, it is time to turn our attention back to optimizing our microbiome.

As a reminder, the gut microbiome is the collection of microbes found in our intestinal tract. They are essential for us as they play a huge role in digesting food, absorbing nutrients and calories, regulating our hunger and metabolism and so much more. There are “good” and “bad” gut bugs, where good bugs help to ramp up our metabolism, enhance our digestion and nutrient absorption and reduce inflammation and our bad bugs can do the exact opposite.

There is a major rivalry between good and bad gut microbes. They are in direct competition with each other for both space and food within the intestinal tract. The more you have of either good or bad bugs, the more they band together and out compete their rivals.

The key to balancing our gut microbiome is to:

  1. Introduce the appropriate good bugs into your gut using fermented food and probiotics.

  2. Nourish the good bugs with the appropriate food.

Here is how you can do this:

Eat a diversity of whole foods. Our good bacteria thrive off of a variety of whole foods, where bad bacteria love sugary, processed foods. Different bugs prefer different whole foods, so by eating a variety of whole foods, you are ensuring you are feeding as many different types of microbes as possible. To encourage diversity in our meals you can:

  • Try a new type of produce every week

  • Try a new recipe every week (check out our holiday recipe books for new ideas)

  • Try to eat seasonally, where you focus on eating what produce is at its peak each season

  • Try a new restaurant with different cuisines

Eat prebiotic foods. Prebiotic foods have specific types of non-digestible dietary fiber that are extremely supportive of our digestive health and nourish the good bacteria in your gut. Some foods with this special fibres include:

  • Leeks

  • Onions

  • Garlics

  • Artichokes

  • Chicory Root

  • Asparagus

  • Dandelion Greens

  • Apples

  • Bananas

  • Oats

  • Barley

Eat fermented foods. Adding fermented foods, which naturally contain live microbes, help to re-introduce a variety of microbes into your intestinal tract and create an environment that promotes a healthy balance of gut microbes. Some common fermented foods include kimchi (my personal favourite), sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, yogurt. Some tips for incorporating fermented foods:

  • When purchasing fermenting foods, ensure it states it includes a live culture of bacteria. Usually if it contains a live culture, it will say this on the container, and potentially even the different types of microbes and the amount of each.

  • When purchasing fermented foods, choose options that are refrigerated. Live microbes need to be refrigerated, so if you find it in the store outside of the refrigerated section, it likely doesn’t contain living microbes.

  • When you first introduce fermented food, start slow and build from there. Start with a teaspoon of fermented food daily and build up to one to two tablespoon a day.

  • Try to alternate between different types of fermented foods every day, again variety is key.

Take probiotics. Probiotics have all the same health promoting benefits as fermented foods, with the added bonus of knowing exactly what microbes you are getting in and in what amounts.

Some tips for incorporating probiotics:

  • When purchasing probiotics, aim for ones that have a larger variety with regard to types of microbes included and the highest amounts of each microbe (often referred to as most colony forming units). When it comes to the gut, diversity is always key.

  • When purchasing probiotics, try to aim include all three main 3 main categories of probiotics: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium blends; Saccharomyces boulardii (a type of yeast); Soil-Based Blends (usually Bacillus species). You can try each type separately and see which ones work best for you, or use them all combined if it does not cause any issues for you.

  • When purchasing probiotics, It is important to take probiotics that will be able to survive the stomach acid, so it can make it to the small intestine where it can do it’s job properly. Look for one that has an enteric coating or is time-released.

  • Similar to fermented foods, when starting off with probiotics, start slow with the minimum suggested dose and build from there.

These tips are going to move you towards a more balanced microbiome and your body is going to thank you for it. In return you can expect better digestion, more energy, better skin and hair, enhanced mood and strengthened immune system. All of that for some minor changes to your diet, doesn’t that sound incredible?

Want to learn more?