Our microbiome contains one hundred times more genes than our human genome! In other words, roughly 99 percent of associated genetic material is available to us to mold in ways that are beneficial. The health of our intestinal flora - and the varied systems that it influences - is directly under our control.
Most people are aware now that use of antibiotic prescription medications damages the good bacteria while it fights the bad bacteria presumably making us sick. Prescription medications are not the only “anti” biotics that can harm our microbiome. Additionally, there are a number of strategies for incorporating “pro” biotics to boost immunity, support digestion, and improve mood and cognitive function.
Factors That Can Damage Healthy Gut Flora
- Sugar and processed foods
- Altered fats in food products
- Pasteurization of food
- Artificial food coloring
- Prescription antibiotics
- Anti-depressants (especially SSRIs) and sleeping pills
- OTC medications – NSAIDs, antacids, laxatives, mouthwash
- Widespread use of antibacterial soaps, shampoos, and cleaners
- Pesticides/Herbicides (GMOs)
- Excessive colon cleanses
- Surgeries, colonoscopies, chemo/radiation treatments
- Heavy metal toxicity/amalgam dental fillings
- Statins (anti-cholesterol drugs)
- Increased and varied use of vaccines
Strategies for Supporting a Healthy Microbiome
- Eat plants. Fruits, vegetables, tubers, legumes, nuts, and seeds all contain fiber which serves as a prebiotic in the gut. Undigested fiber and resistant starch are fermented in the large intestine to re-colonize our healthy bacteria in the small intestine. Eating the majority of calories from plant-based foods ensures adequate fiber intake while also reducing animal-based foods that are acidic and disrupt balance in the microbiome.
- Eat fermented foods. Cultures around the world have incorporated fermented foods. They are quickly regaining popularity as we become more aware of the importance of a healthy gut. Some fermented foods include natto, tempeh, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, and fermented vegetables such as pickles.
- Avoid refined sugar and processed foods. This goes without saying. Nearly all recommendations for improving health agree on this strategy. If you are also suffering from any form of irritable bowel, eliminating all wheat and dairy products is key to healing damage and restoring the microbiome.
- Use a quality probiotic formula that contains prebiotics. Probiotic 10/50 by Vitälzȳm™ contains 10 of the most clinically researched probiotic bacteria strains known to promote a healthier digestive tract and immune system as well as Jerusalem artichoke and chicory root as prebiotics. *
- Manage stress, exercise regularly, and get some sleep! Again, these strategies are important for overall health by reducing inflammation and down-regulating an overactive immune response. They go hand in hand with proper nutrition and supplementation for healing and restoration.
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