THE 3 ESSENTIAL STEPS TO MAINTAINING A THRIVING MICROBIOME
We know that gut health influences the health of just about every system in your body. From your brain function to your skin’s appearance, from how well your immune system works to how your body stores fat, your microbiome is at the root of it all.
Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates made the statement that “all disease begins in the gut,” but it wasn’t until recent years that we started paying attention. So what can we do to maintain a thriving microbiome? Here are three essential steps: weed, seed, and feed.
Step 1: Weed
The first step to support gut health is to remove, or “weed out,” the foods that contribute to gut inflammation and imbalance. In other words: cut the crap.
The “Standard American Diet” is packed with processed, inflammatory foods like refined carbohydrates, excess sugar, and industrial seed oils. Even if you seek out better-for-you options, the reality is, most processed food contains inflammatory ingredients and lacks gut supporting nutrients like soluble and insoluble fiber.
So what can you do? Transition to a diet based on healthy, whole, nutrient-dense foods. You may also take weeding a step further by working with a practitioner to run a food sensitivity test or elimination diet. You may find that certain foods (even foods you may otherwise view as healthy, like eggs) are irritating and inflaming your gut. By identifying such foods, you can remove them from your diet for a period of time to allow your gut to heal.
Step 2: Seed
The second step to support gut health is to seed the gut with good bacteria.
You constantly have both good and bad bacteria in your body. The bad bacteria can quickly overrun the good if left unmanaged, so the key is to keep the balance of good bacteria greater than the bad. You can do this by adding good bacteria to your gut, which can actually help fight off the bad and restore a healthy balance. Probiotic foods and supplements are a way to add good bacteria to your body.
So what can you do? Incorporate fermented foods into your diet. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics and include foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir. You can also supplement with a probiotic. Consult with your provider on specific strains if you have a known gut issue (like SIBO, leaky gut, histamine intolerance, IBD, or IBS).
Step 3: Feed
The third step is to feed the good bacteria in the gut with prebiotics. Just like us, bacteria need to eat specific food to survive and thrive.
So what can you do? Increase your intake of fermentable fibers. These are found in foods like unripe (green) bananas, plantains, artichoke, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, and dandelion greens.
Taking care of your microbiome can have a broad range of benefits. As every microbiome is different, every body will respond differently to weeding, seeding, and feeding. However, incorporating these steps can improve allergies, brain function, skin health, immunity, digestion, and bone health. In addition, it can reduce the risk of autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
It might sound miraculous, but that’s just how powerful a thriving microbiome can be. Try these three simple steps and see what benefits you notice!
Hillary holds a Bachelors in Economics from Washington and Jefferson College, an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and is certified as a Holistic Nutritionist through Bauman College. She lives in Colorado with her husband and toddler son.