Healthy living starts in the gut. Imagine – jumping out of bed in the morning with energy. Socializing with friends bloat-free, worry-free and eating whatever you want.
A balanced gut may allow you to feel all this and more.
Over 100 years ago, scientists discovered that live bacteria in the human digestive system offered numerous health benefits. People in the regions of Russia and Bulgaria consumed large amounts of fermented foods and lived longest.
Researchers speculated that beneficial gut bacteria found in fermented foods had anti-aging properties. Today, scientists emphasize how important these little gut bugs are to our health and well-being.
Unfortunately, our modern diets and high-stress lifestyles do not typically support healthy gut environments.
Many people have dysbiosis – a decline in beneficial gut bacteria and an increase in potentially harmful microorganisms.
Recent studies in medical journals show that poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, nutrient-deficient diets, and high levels of stress relates to decreased microbial populations.
Not surprisingly, many diseases are associated with dysbiosis.
This may explain why we see a rapid rise in the popularity of probiotic supplements and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, spicy kimchi and kombucha beverages.
Did you know that probiotics are the fastest growing supplement worldwide?
Anyone looking for optimal wellness needs to know the importance of a healthy microbiome.
Dysbiosis can lead to a myriad of health issues:
- weight gain
- food cravings
- skin problems
- compromised intestinal permeability
- autoimmune conditions
- chronic pain
Dysbiosis must not be left untreated.
In my clinical practice, many of my patients show signs of dysbiosis. Without addressing gut imbalances, symptoms do not resolve and typically get worse.
Here’s what I recommend to my patients to reduce gut inflammation, restore balance in the gut and get them feeling their best:
Step One – take a high potency, multi-strain probiotic supplement every morning.
Probiotics are not created equal.
Different doses are available based on individual needs and a variety of strains are necessary to increase diversity in the gut. Diversity is key because different strains have different jobs in the body. For example, Lactobacillus rhamnosus is particularly helpful for women who are prone to yeast infections while Bifidobacterium bifidum is typically recommended to reduce bowel transit time and treat constipation.
Most of my patients take one capsule per day, containing at least 50 billion active bacteria.
Step Two – aim for a total of 30-40 grams of fibre per day.
Physicians have been recommending fibre for years for its known health benefits such as bowel regularity, lowering cholesterol, and balancing hormones, particularly in women who have excess estrogen. However, fibre has another important function that is often overlooked.
When fibre is fermented in the colon by beneficial bacteria, short chain fatty acids are produced. The fatty acids acetate, propionate, and butyrate act as fuel for the cells of the colon and are necessary for colon health.
These short chain fatty acids play a role in carbohydrate and fat metabolism and may increase fat burning while decreasing fat storage.
The following types of fibre are known as prebiotics and act as fuel for beneficial gut bacteria – inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), pectin, and guar gum.
Prebiotic-rich foods include:
- legumes such as mung beans and black beans
Step Three – exercise daily for a minimum of 30 minutes to maintain a healthy gut.
Exercise positively impacts gut health by increasing the numbers of butyrate producing bacteria, reducing intestinal transit time and lessening gut inflammation.
Although we are in the early stages of understanding how exercise changes gut microbial communities, we know that the composition and diversity of species in obese individuals is different to non-obese individuals.
One research study compared athletes to healthy controls and observed that athletes had greater diversity of species in their gut. We must consider that these athletes were also eating differently, emphasizing the impact of diet on the gut environment.
Armed with knowledge, we are empowered to take our gut health into our own hands.
A healthy gut is the foundation to good health.
Simple steps can help you feel better. My advice? Repopulate lost gut flora with a daily probiotic, keep beneficial bacteria thriving with prebiotic-rich foods and reduce inflammation by staying active.