Keeping a diverse microbiome and an intact, functional gut lining are keys to mental well-being. This is well-established in mouse studies, and human studies are beginning to bear the same results: the more diverse the gut flora, the healthier the body and mind. There are less rumination and more engagement. There are less obesity and more leanness in those with a diverse gut flora.
You can’t look at the flora without looking at the structures that house them, and those with diverse gut flora also have a more functional intestinal lining and barrier. The two go hand in hand.
The good news is that the microbiome can be changed for the better, even after years of poor nutrition, infection, antibiotics or just the subtle and nefarious effects of living in the world we do. Research shows that diet-induced changes in the gut flora happen in as little as 72 hours. Utilizing nutrition and other lifestyle approaches, you can quickly increase beneficial diversity in your microbiome. And diversity, as in any ecological or social system, is the shield against ruin.
These 7 quick and easy tips will help get your gut happy and on track, and in turn promote emotional bliss as well:
1. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits
This is prime fuel for your microbiome, which prefers fiber-dense foods. When you eat, you’re eating not just for yourself but for a hundred trillion. Eat within the context of your unique sensitivities, and know that many people with dysbiosis tend to do better on a low-FODMAP diet.
2. Eat fermented foods
Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, real pickles, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, and kefir (if you tolerate dairy products) are a few examples. Fermented foods help nourish and build a robust microbiome because they contain healthy, beneficial bacteria and their metabolites.
3. Temper gluten and sugar with vegetables
These foods have been shown to select against a diverse flora and can contribute to motility problems, which can, in turn, worsen dysbiosis. When you eat these foods, if you do, make sure that you get in some vegetables with them to feed those good guys!
4. Use antibiotics judiciously
Indiscriminate killers of bacteria capable of altering the population of your microbiome enough to create dysbiosis, this class of drugs is incorrectly prescribed up to 40% of the time. Use antibiotics only if indicated, and be sure to take a probiotic along with them. The two will not cancel each other out, and the latter will offset negative side effects of the former.
5. Consider a shower filter
Chlorine is a major antibacterial compound, and you are exposed to a ton of it in an average ten-minute shower, which is all that is needed to negatively impact your microbiome. Shower filters are inexpensive and readily available.
6. Ditch Triclosan
Found in antibacterial hand soaps and washes, triclosan is implicated in the rise of antibiotic resistance, dysbiosis of the microbiome and increases the risk of environmental allergies, asthma, and eczema. Wash those hands with soap and water, or find a triclosan-free product.
7. Get some gut-healing nutrients on board
This will help restore the integrity of a dysfunctional intestinal lining. Zinc carnosine is a powerhouse against leaky gut. The amino acid L-glutamine is the preferred fuel for the cells that line the entire GI tract and is a gentle gut healer. The wildly popular collagen builders such as gelatin, bone broth, and blueberries are easy foods to incorporate into your daily or weekly nutrition to help heal gut and brain alike.
The performance and well-being of the digestive system and the brain are intricately connected in a myriad of ways. Supporting one supports the other. Interrupting the cycle of dysfunction simmering in the gut leads to better clarity of mind, and dare I say, joy.
Keep in tune!