Our gastrointestinal (GI) tract is considered the “largest immunologic organ” in the human body. Research on the human gut microbiome has exploded in the last few years. Most people are aware of the rise in the use of probiotics for digestive health, but did you know that all those bugs in your intestine are important players in the body’s immune system? Our intestinal flora affects our immune system in many ways. These are some easy steps you can take to improve your gut health:
Fiber, fiber, fiber
Dietary fiber helps improve the movement in your intestine and feeds the good bacteria. Add more fruits, vegetables, legumes, oat bran and chia seeds to your diet. You can also add fiber to a smoothie every day such as a tablespoon of psyllium or flax seed for added health benefits.
Take a daily probiotic
A good quality probiotic has at least 10 billion CFU’s and has multiple bacteria strains. Orthomolecular and Klaire Labs are brands I trust for their quality and reliability.
Avoid unnecessary medications
Some of the worst enemies of our microbiome are antibiotics and medications for heartburn (anti-acids, Pepcid, omeprazole, etc). Our Functional Medicine approach offers strategies to wean off of these medications in most cases.
Eat more fermented foods
Fermented foods have been an important part of traditional diets for millennia. Studies have shown that eating even a small amount of sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha or yogurt can add variety to your guts’ microbiome in beneficial ways.
And of course, dump the junk!
A single fast food meal will change the microbial balance in your gut within 24 hours (and not for the better!). Eat less sugar, processed foods and animal products and more fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
These are the foundations of gut health. As always, please reach out if you have questions. I am available for consultations by phone or video conference if you want to discuss a personalized strategy to optimize your intestinal health.