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Is Your Lifestyle Sabotaging Your Microbiome?

Is Your Lifestyle Sabotaging Your Microbiome? Is Your Lifestyle Sabotaging Your Microbiome?

You could be washing away your good bacteria with your habits. Having a well-balanced microbiome is the foundation of good health and many common ailments for people of all ages begin or show symptoms in the gut. Our gut microbiome is made up of a vast array of microbes and keeping a harmonious balance of the right kinds of microbes can make a huge impact on overall wellness as well as chronic conditions.

What are healthy gut microbes and how do we take care of them?

Certain types of bacteria are generally considered beneficial, while others may have potential negative effects. Some examples could look like this:

Good Gut Bacteria (Beneficial):

  • Bifidobacterium species: Play a role in promoting overall gut health, aiding digestion, and supporting a healthy immune system.
  • Lactobacillus species: Contribute to the breakdown of lactose, can help heal leaky gut, and even have antimicrobial properties.
  • Faecalibacterium prausnitzii: Helps maintain a healthy gut lining, produces butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that supports gut health and supports a healthy immune system.
  • Akkermansia muciniphila: Can help regulate A1c levels and is associated with metabolic health benefits.

    Bad Gut Bacteria (Potentially Harmful):

    • Clostridioides difficile (C. diff): A pathogen that can cause infections and inflammation in the gut.
    • Escherichia coli (E. coli): While some strains are beneficial, certain pathogenic strains can cause gastrointestinal infections.
    • Bacteroides species: while some are very beneficial, others neutral, there are opportunistic pathogenic strains that can contribute to intestinal inflammation (leaky gut) and IBS symptoms like gas and bloating.

      So even if you're conscientious about introducing good bacteria into your system, are you washing it away with your lifestyle choices and or health related necessities? Taking care of your gut bacteria involves lifestyle choices that support and encourage a diverse and balanced microbiome.

      What are potentially detrimental lifestyle choices?

      Poor Diet: A diet high in processed foods, sugars, and unhealthy fats can negatively impact the diversity and health of your microbiome. It can promote the growth of harmful bacteria while suppressing beneficial ones that we would rather encourage.

      To promote a healthy microbiome focus on balanced and varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

      • Include fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi that contain live beneficial bacteria.
      • Limit processed foods, sugary snacks, and excessive intake of unhealthy fats.
      • Make sure you're getting enough fiber - Insufficient fiber intake can starve your beneficial bacteria, as they rely on dietary fiber as a fuel source. Gradually increase fiber intake to prevent digestive discomfort.

      What kinds of medicines are hard on good bacteria?

      Antibiotic Use: While antibiotics are necessary to fight infections, they can also kill off both harmful and beneficial bacteria in your gut. Apart from diet, medical conditions and routine health prescriptions can be an important variable for how you approach taking care of your digestive system.

      To minimize the impact on your microbiome, consume probiotic-rich foods or supplements during and after antibiotic use to replenish beneficial bacteria.

      Only use antibiotics when prescribed by a healthcare professional and follow the prescribed dosage and if possible, discuss alternatives or probiotic supplementation with your doctor to support the restoration of healthy bacteria. Consume probiotic-rich foods or supplements during and after antibiotic use to replenish beneficial bacteria.

      If you're not already taking a custom probiotic, it's recommended to take a daily probiotic that provides all essential nutrients that may not be achieved through other means.

      Flore probiotic displayed in front of orange background with a tall almost full glass of orange juice

      What kind of impact does your mental state have on your microbiome?

      Stress: Chronic stress can disrupt the balance of your gut microbiota, impacting its diversity and composition. To manage stress and support a healthy microbiome, find ways to manage stress either at the source or through options like exercise and meditation.

      If the way to the heart is through the stomach, then the way to the gut is through the brain. Not only does our gut tell us things, but our brains can also cause digestive distress according to mental triggers. Chronic stress can disrupt the balance of your gut microbiota, impacting its diversity and composition. This provides both a challenge and an opportunity to manage overall wellness directly through stress relieving practices.

      To manage stress and support a healthy microbiome, practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, surfing or martial arts, deep breathing exercises, reading or engaging in other hobbies you love.

      If you attack your stress levels with exercise it can help your gut on a deeper lever: physical activity is amazing for the digestive system. Many experts suggest taking a walk after meals to help the process.

      Prioritize sleep to help regulate stress hormones and support overall well-being.

      brunette woman sleeping peacefully in ivory sheets

      Lack of Physical Activity: Sedentary behavior has been associated with alterations in gut microbial composition. Regular exercise can support a healthy microbiome. Regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, cycling, or any form of exercise that makes you feel great will help your microbiome flourish.

      Overuse of Hygiene Products: Excessive use of antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, and cleaning products can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria on your skin and in your environment. To maintain a healthy microbiome, use plain soap and water for hand-washing, unless in specific situations where sanitizers are necessary.

      Limit the use of antibacterial products and opt for gentle, non-irritating cleansers.

      bottle of turquoise colored hand sanitizer on yellow table top, two hands in the frame using the sanitizer

      It's important to note that individual responses to lifestyle and health choices may vary. If you have specific health concerns or questions about your microbiome, it's always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice.

      Listen to your gut, feed it well with nutritious foods and a good probiotic supplement, and the most important steps on your health journey have already been taken.

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