While most people don’t know a great deal about their gut microbiome (the bacteria in their gut), it is actually one of the most important allies in your overall health and well-being.
A healthy gut can mean a healthy body, while an unhealthy gut can have a detrimental impact on your health.
On a basic level, the gut microbiome (or the different gut flora and gut bacteria), impacts your entire health system — everything ranging from arthritis to depression.
Your gut is responsible for making sure that the body is absorbing all of the important nutrients it needs in order to function at its highest level. This is why so many different aspects of health are attached to it.
Why Your Gut Microbiome Is So Important to Your Wellbeing
So many chronic diseases can be related to your gut microbiome. Even though bacteria are virtually microscopic, we have so many of them in our bodies.
In fact, around 3-4% of our body weight is made up of bacteria.
Unfortunately, many of the lifestyle choices people today make actually impact their bodies’ ability to maintain healthy gut bacteria.
What is most surprising about gut bacteria, is that many people don’t realize that they are having an issue with their bacteria levels until they start to see some negative side effects.
“Good” gut bacteria can help with a number of different aspects of your health, including improving your digestion, strengthening your immune system, and helping your body manufacture all of the vitamins it needs.
If you are struggling with these areas of your health or if you are dealing with other health issues, such as digestion problems or skin conditions, your gut flora may be to blame.
The goal in maintaining a healthy gut is to try to create a balance of the bacteria levels in your system.
The good news is, it is actually easier than it sounds.
You can improve your gut microbiome and make sure that you are creating a good balance of gut bacteria. And you can start doing it today.
5 Effective and Easy Ways to Improve Your Gut Microbiome
Here are five easy, yet effective ways to greatly improve your gut microbiome, and thus, your health as a whole.
These are just five of the easiest, yet most effective approaches to fixing your gut balance so you can start enjoying the healthy life you deserve.
1. Eating healthy fats
Healthy fats are so important to a balanced diet. They help with everything from your brain and heart to joint health.
This is why one of the simplest changes that you can do is to replace oils like canola oil and vegetable oil in your kitchen with coconut oil.
Coconut oil is a super healthy fat that is not only just non-inflammatory, but it is actually really good for your body and can help keep your gut bacteria levels in check.
Supplements are one way to help your gut flora flourish.
Functional medicine doctors, like Dr. Mark Hyman, often suggest supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids and probiotic supplements that can help reduce gut inflammation and encourage healthy flora production.
In Dr. Mark Hyman’s (doctor of functional medicine), book Eat Fat, Get Thin, he provides readers with a practical guide to easily introducing good, healthy fats into your diet.
Other great foods that have good fats in them, that you should add to your diet, include:
- Fish oils
- Grass-fed butter
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Your body needs these fats.
Bad fats cause inflammation, destroy healthy gut microbes, and can cause resistance to weight loss. It also increases your chances of heart and cardiovascular issues and a number of other chronic diseases.
Good fats, on the other hand, will help your entire system function as it should and make sure that your gut is up and functioning as it should be.
2. Cutting out sugar
Sugar is one of the biggest enemies of the gut microbiome. And according to Dr. Mark Hyman, our diets now have more sugar than ever.
People used to average around 20 tsp of sugar a year, now the average person eats about 22 tsp of sugar per day. This, along with products like steroids and anti-acids, drastically impact your gut’s bacteria and destroy the good bacteria that this system needs.
One of the first things that you can do is to start slowly cutting out sugar from your diet.
This can be harder than it seems, so you may need to take a slower approach. According to Dr. Mark Hyman from the Institute of Functional Medicine, sugar is even more addictive than drugs like cocaine and heroin. In fact, numerous studies that look at rats and addiction found that rats will always go for sugar instead of cocaine.
You can be highly addicted to sugar, which means it can take a long time to cut sugar out of your current diet.
Sugar is in everything, from sodas to coffee drinks, packaged foods, and virtually anything processed. Your body can struggle at first to overcome your addiction to sugar, so don’t be surprised if you start to feel sluggish or have headaches as your system gets used to operating with less sugar.
Cutting out sugar will not only help your gut microbiome maintain a normal balance, and normal gut microbe levels can help you maintain a healthy weight, but eating less sugar, in general, can also help with your weight loss goals.
3. Eat lean proteins
When it comes to eating a healthy diet, most diet plans will tell you to eat plenty of lean proteins. This is because protein is so important and so good for you. It helps with your hair, skin, and nails, it helps you build lean muscles and it can promote better brain health. Most importantly, it is good for your gut.
Optimal gut balance begins with your diet. What you put into your body is so important, which is why adding lean proteins is such a great place to start. Eating protein is one of the best ways to create a gut balance, which means you will have lots of good microbes, like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria, while helping to eliminate the bad microbe, like yeast and parasites.
Good proteins can be found in all types of places, including these healthy foods:
- Leafy green vegetables
The more you can get your proteins from natural sources, the better.
4. The more fiber, the better
Fiber is one of the best additions to your diet when it comes to helping your overall gut health.
Fiber supports your gut and the microbes in your gut love fiber. With this in mind, a great rule of thumb for maintaining a healthy, fiber-filled diet, is to try to make 75% of your plate filled with natural, colorful vegetables.
There are a few other ways to add healthy fibers to your diet. It includes fruits and vegetables along with nuts and seeds. Fermented foods also have a good amount of fiber and probiotics in them and can help your gut stay healthy and balanced.
Fiber is one of the most important additions to your diet when it comes to maintaining good overall gut microbiome health. It should be one of the main changes you make in your diet as it is so essential in the production of good flora in your gut.
The average person does not get enough fiber in their diet, so make this your first step in changing your diet for the better.
5. Sleep and take care of your body
A majority of finding gut balance comes down to diet, but it isn’t the only thing you need to do in order to maintain a healthy gut.
First, you need to exercise regularly. It helps your entire system get up and function in the way it should.
Then, you need to get eight hours of sleep per night. Stress and lack of sleep are two major factors that can influence your gut health. Your mood and stress actually have a direct impact on your gut flora.
These steps are essential to helping you maintain a good gut microbiome balance.
Dr. Mark Hyman is an expert on gut flora and has helped numerous patients change their diets and their lives. He does this by helping them to maintain better gut microbe balance so that they can live their best, healthiest life possible. Changing the way you eat can make a drastic difference in your health, and it can all start with your balanced gut microbe.
Here is an insightful talk by Dr. Mark Hyman (during Mindvalley’s A-Fest) on the power of food and lifestyle when it comes to our overall health: