Did you know that you have over 50 TRILLION bacteria in your gut?! This equals about one bacterial cell for every human cell in your body!
Our gut is the epicenter of activity in our bodies- that's why many medical experts are calling the gut the "second brain". Our gut health is connected to EVERYTHING- our sleep, skin/hair/nails, immune function, energy levels, weight, hormonal function, and more.
Over 75% of the food in the modern American diet is of limited or no benefit to the microbiome of the lower gut, so diet always plays a huge role in this. If you focus on grass-fed/pastured meats, fish, and lots of fruits and veggies + cut out all the artificial junk, you're already 90% there. Here's a few other tips I have on how to improve your gut microbiome!
1. Eat probiotic-rich foods
Including probiotic-rich foods (like the ones listed above) in your diet can help you naturally improve the quality of your gut health microbiome. Try to make it a point to consume fermented foods daily, these are the best probiotic for gut health. Some of my favorite ways to enjoy fermented foods:
Avocado toast topped with spicy kimchi
raw pickles + fermented veggies as part of a snack/charcuterie board
Coconut yogurt topped with blueberries as a breakfast or snack
a shot of raw AVC in a glass of water with some lemon and honey or monk fruit sweetener
homemade (or store bought) miso soup
And I love to pick up my long-fermented sourdough bread from Rapha Kitchen + Co and make myself a yummy sandwich!
2. Eat more PREbiotic foods
You can think of prebiotics as the precursors to probiotics or "food" for probiotics. Many people focus solely on probiotics, but getting a balance of both is essential. Prebiotics resist gastric acidity and are fermented by our gut microflora. They selectively signal the growth & activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut, so they are very important! Examples of prebiotic gut health foods include:
legumes, lentils, chickpeas
3. Eat more polyphenol-rich foods
Some studies have shown that polyphenols in food help promote the growth of probiotic microbiomes like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. The greater the variety of polyphenols consumed, the more beneficial. Examples of polyphenol-rich foods include:
Herbs & spices
dark chocolate/raw cacao
4. Cut back on sugar and sweeteners
I don't think I have to tell you that too much sugar is harmful to your health, but just here to remind you to be conscious of your sugar consumption and be EXTRA conscious of artificial sweeteners like aspartame because they are linked to an increase in the "bad" bacteria in the gut. If you have intense sugar cravings, try the following:
Increase your protein intake. I find that this improves sugar cravings significantly for many of my clients. Inadequate protein causes sugar cravings because your body is craving quick energy. Aim for at least 20-30 grams of protein per meal.
Wean your pallet off of sweeteners. If you are someone who loves a little coffee with their sugar and cream, this one is for you. If you cut out sweeteners cold turkey, it might be more difficult for you to stick with it long term. Try slowly weaning yourself off by adding less sweeteners to your foods and drinks over the course of 2-3 weeks so it's not such a shock to your system and keep your gut clean.
Use more natural sweeteners like fruit, dates/date sugar and monk fruit sweetener when you do need something sweet.
5. Get enough sleep
Sleep is one of the most underrated health tools there is! Studies have shown that irregular sleep habits and disturbed sleep have negative outcomes for gut flora. Try your best to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same times each day and aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep (women typically need more than men!)
If you're struggling with getting your gut in order and feel like you need a plan to kickstart some healthy habits, check out my 10-Day Gut Reset for gut health- this is a self-guided program that will help you improve digestion, have more energy, and sleep better!