Things to Support Your Microbiome
I’ve been writing a lot about your microbiome lately, because it’s so important to the health of your body and one of the main drivers in your aging process, and because I want all of us to age without those “normal” illnesses so we can all retire at whatever age we want and have a long and vibrant second act. And paying attention to, and nourishing, your gut bacteria is one of the most important parts of keeping your immune system strong, your body functioning well and the needle of your biological age moving in the right direction.
Unfortunately, this becomes a little more challenging as you get older because the acids and enzymes that digest our food decrease making digestion more difficult, and in turn, causes an imbalance of bacteria in the microbiome.
Then, taking certain medications (especially antibiotics), eating too much sugar and processed foods (nutritionally void foods) and not enough probiotics (bacteria rich foods or supplements) are other factors that add insult to injury of your microbiome. This contributes to digestive discomfort and can cause the microscopic holes in the gut wall (you know all about leaky gut!) that allow partially digest food particles, toxins and bacteria into the body that cause chronic inflammation and pain through your entire body.
You can change your microbiome very quickly by choosing foods and nourish bacterial diversity.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that support gut health. They are found in fermented foods such as non-dairy, unsweetened yogurt and kefir, as well as raw kimchi and sauerkraut. They can also be taken in supplement form.
Prebiotics are the foods your bacteria eat to survive and multiply, we can’t digest these foods, but they can.
These prebiotics are the carbohydrates in your diet that are high in fiber and resistant starch. They don’t directly nourish you, they nourish your bacteria, which in turn keeps them healthy enough to nourish you.
Fiber is made up of medium to long chains of sugar molecules that are difficult for the body to break down, they are, what I like to call “drippy carbs” (I’ll get there shortly), and resistant starches that directly nourish the gut lining - they don’t get broken down but pass through the digestive tract intact. (You can increase the amount of resistant starch by cooking and then reheating these foods.)
Garlic, yam, taro, onion, leek, asparagus, ground flaxseeds, jicama, seaweed, broccoli stalks, the ribs of kale and chard (the part you usually throw out) are all great sources of nourishing prebiotics that your gut bacteria love to feast on. Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough fiber, so do your best to get this beneficial nutrient into your diet from food and not supplementation.
The interplay of prebiotic and probiotics is what creates healthy gut bacteria. So do what you can to support those babies!!
You need to consciously feed your gut bacteria on a daily basis, the way you consciously feed yourself. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Your gut bacteria have hundreds of essential jobs that keep you healthy and pain free - they breakdown the foods you consume and extract the nutrients in it to produce vitamins and brain chemicals. The bacteria in your gut even have a huge influence on your mood.
Consciously feeding and caring for these critical bacteria keep a delicate gut wall nourished and strong and is one of the best things you can do to improve and maintain your overall health and control your aging process.
Do this by increasing the diversity in the foods you consume. Opt for “the rainbow”. Vegetables, beans and fruit come in all the colors of the rainbow. Each color offers the body different nutrients and the fiber it needs to be healthy.