“Trust your gut” may have more than one meaning. A vital source of our overall wellbeing lies in our gut health. Our digestive system contains over 100 trillion bacteria. There are approximately 1,000 different species of bacteria, also known as gut microbiota. However, everyone’s gut microbiome is unique, which is why our digestive habits can be so varied. Bloating, constipation, nausea, heart burn and abdominal pain on occasion is common, but when these symptoms persist, trust your gut.
Your Gut Microbiome Forms at Birth
The formation of our microbiome starts from the minute we are born. Infants are like sponges, soaking up microbes from their mother’s vaginal canal, breast milk, hospital personnel and their surrounding environment. The organisms that babies are exposed to during birth have the greatest influence on those that reside in their guts permanently. Yet, as we grow a little bit older, we are exposed to more germs and bacteria, strengthening our microbiome. The contact we have with moms, dads, siblings, animals, nature, and our surrounding environments shape the foundation of our immune system and ultimately stabilize into our microbiome.
What Does a Healthy Gut Look Like?
A healthy gut is a peaceful gut. One that is free from regular gastrointestinal irritation and food intolerances. A healthy gut has a balanced microbiome and strong gut barrier to prevent uncomfortable digestive symptoms. The key to a healthy and balanced gut is diversity, or a large array of organisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes. The gut communicates to all parts of your body, even affecting our mental health and immune system. So, as we age or have children of our own, what can we do to cultivate a healthy microbiome?
Add Fiber to Your Diet
Age, diet, environment, genes and medications affect our personal microbiome. Some factors we cannot change, while others we can. The same habits that are bad for our heart, lungs and brain are bad for our gut. Smoking cigarettes and excessive alcohol consumption destroys the microbiome. But perhaps the most important factor is diet.
“Your gut bacteria lives off whatever’s left over in your colon after your cells have digested all of the nutrients and amino acids. You want to feed them complex fiber, not bad, processed stuff.” – Dr. Gail A. Hecht
Following a balanced diet, high in fiber and nutrients and low in saturated fats and refined sugars can help your gut bacteria continue growing and maintain its diversity. Aiming for 20 to 40 grams of fiber a day, depending on your age and gender, is ideal. Fiber can’t be digested by our bodies, but it does feed our gut bacteria, helping us feel full and keep the digestive tract moving.
Did You Say Something About Medications?
Yes, we did. When it comes to medications, the CDC found that an estimated 1 in 3 prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections and do a great job at killing disease-causing bacteria. However, they also kill the good bacteria that live in our gut. Taking too many antibiotics can drastically change the composition of our gut microbiota. Remember, germs and bacteria exposure can be good sometimes because our body builds up a defense against them. When we get accustomed to antibiotics, our microbiota become imbalanced. This imbalance is linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can lead to greater disease including obesity, type 2 diabetes and atopy.
A Happy Gut, Healthy Life.
More than 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates said that disease begins in the gut. From the moment we are born, we are given a template of what our gut microbiome will look like for the rest of our lives. Every person has a unique microbiome, but there are common things we can all do to maintain its health and diversity. Healthy lifestyle choices, like regular exercise, quality sleep and a high fiber diet, benefit our gut. Whether you reach for Natural Recovery Greens to help you live healthier or implement a lifestyle change, take care of your gut.