Updated: Mar 30
By Dr. Kimberley Ramberan, ND
Hippocrates, who is referred to as the “Father of Medicine” has long been quoted for saying: “All disease begins in the gut”. Similarly, a common view point in naturopathic medicine has been that the digestive system is the cornerstone of health and is strongly linked to many aspects of health via our spectacular human gut microbiome or gut flora.
The gut microbiome refers to the native bacteria that live symbiotically all over our bodies, in our lungs, on our skin, other mucous membranes, but the highest concentration exists in our digestive tract. It is undeniable that the human gut microbiome has a role in both health and disease has been the subject of extensive research, establishing its involvement in human metabolism, nutrition, physiology, and immune function.
Imbalance of normal gut flora (often termed dysbiosis) can negatively alter the physiological processes that the microbiome is responsible for, leaving the body more susceptible to opportunistic infections. An altered gut microbiome also has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as: inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and wider systemic manifestations of disease such as: obesity, type 2 diabetes, autoimmunity, mental health issues and allergies.
The main factors that we know can impact the health of the human gut microbiome are:
Diet and food additives
Exercise and sleep
While we can’t control all the factors that affect our microbiome, there is so much we can do in our daily lives to support a healthy environment for friendly bacteria to grow and thrive which in turn only helps us feel our best.
Top 5 Tips for Supporting a Healthy Microbiome
Eat a whole food plant based diet high in fibre and low in sugar & processed foods.
Our good bacteria need a steady diet of fibre-antioxidant rich foods in order to grow and colonize our gut effectively. Research shows diets high in sugar actually decrease the diversity of our flora which has been associated with irritable bowel syndrome and diabetes.
Be Mindful of Overuse of Antibiotics
The overuse and misuse of antibiotics can be dangerous to your health. Antibiotics can be an effective treatment against the bacteria that make you sick but the other side of that coin is that antibiotics kill off your good bacteria leaving your immune system at a deficit. This can result in an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the body that can cause issues like yeast infections, IBS, fatigue etc. Not to mention that improper use of antibiotics can lead to antimicrobial resistance, which the WHO (World Health Organization) states is a “serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society.”
Take an Effective Human Strain Probiotic
Probiotics are live, “friendly” bacteria in the micro flora that work to keep a healthy intestinal balance, reducing the amount of harmful bacteria while replenishing and maintaining beneficial strains. Maintaining this balance is critical for overall good health. However, not all probiotics are created equally. Human strain probiotics are the single most important thing I can say. If it doesn’t say it on the box then it isn’t a human strain, likely cow actually. I have many patients who say they felt no difference on a probiotic and then I prescribed a human strain probiotic and they could noticeably feel a difference.
Ask your ND about Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids and a healthy microbiome go hand in hand. To maximize the effect of your probiotic, the good bacteria need a healthy gut lining to latch onto. Essential fatty acids are key nutrients in maintaining the integrity of our gut lining and help to prevent against conditions like leaky gut.
Integrate 1 daily practice to help you process your stress in a positive way.
Chronic stress wreaks havoc on your microbiome. When your body is stressed it produces chemical messengers that ignite an inflammatory pathway in your body and impact the growth of your good flora. So whether it is yoga, deep breathing, getting out in nature or just hanging out with the ones you love ( that don’t stress you out) find something you can do everyday that calms your soul.
Learn more about Dr. Kimberley Ramberan and book a complimentary 15 minute consultation to see how she can help you maintain a healthy gut microbiome!
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