Last week I was chatting with a client who had not been feeling well for quite some time. We were focusing her training on a weight-loss strategy and had even come to a halt with her results. We made the regular checks in terms of diet and exercise and couldn’t really find anything for alarm. She was eating clean and training regularly. Her symptoms were bloating and constant fatigue.
We later denounced that maybe something she was eating was causing a reaction. Although she knows she had no history of any intolerances. I sent her to the doctors to see if we could do an allergy test. All results came back negative. Perplexed, I told her I would do some research to see if we could find a solution.
Coincidentally, I had a bunch of podcasts saved that I had planned to listen to later. The topic on most of the podcast was on gut health and microbiome. The word microbiome is defined as the collection of microbes or microorganisms that inhabit an environment, creating a sort of “mini-ecosystem”. Our human microbiome is made up of communities of symbiotic, commensal and pathogenic bacteria (along with fungi and viruses) all of which call our body’s home.
The health of this mini eco-system is vital to our own health. Unfortunately many of our eating habits, processed foods, farming practices and medical drugs cause major imbalance in this system.
Over 300 species of bacteria needed in the gut and these species will be different from person to person. For every one of your cells there are 3 bacteria required. This basically makes you a walking bacteria sack! The key to creating a healthy microbiome is not about keeping the blood in bacteria and eliminating the bad. It’s the balance between the good and the bad which makes the microbiomes flourish.
YES you need the bad bacteria!
Medical research is now suggesting that there is a direct link between poor gut health and some neurological diseases. This means that the difference between depression and anxiety could be a health gut microbiome.
Genes may be only 10% responsible for genetic disorders with gut microbiome being 80% of the cause. It appears that the bacteria have the ability for these genes to turn on and off. This opens an exciting chapter in the study of autism, dementia, depression and other mental diseases.
So how can you help your microbiome so that it is healthy and functioning properly?
In reality without getting the proper testing done it is very difficult to get the exact balance the gut requires because not all guts are the same. Each person has an individual profile which works for them. However there are steps you can take to support a healthy environment to the right bacteria flush. It’s a kind “build it and they will come” mentality. The fact is that most probiotic yogurts just don’t have enough strains required alone.
1. Cut out processed foods
Most of us already know that processed food is not good for us. It also causes havoc on our gut microbiome. In an ideal world we would all be eating our own locally grown, organic, ready-made nutrition dense diets. However, most of us just don’t have the time. While I highly encourage trying to eat that way when possible, at least eat the food that is as close to nature as possible. What I mean is, eat a food which is as close to being picked, plucked, gathered or gazed as possible.
2. GMO and pesticides
This is a big silent killer. Much work is being done to label foods which are GMO but it’s still very unclear. Try and buy from farmers markets or products produced locally. It’s difficult to avoid all pesticides but at the very least wash all your food before eating it.
3. Probiotic Foods
The fact is that most probiotic yogurts just don’t have enough strains required alone.
One of the best probiotic food is live-cultured yogurt, especially handmade. Look for brands made from goat’s milk that have been infused with extra forms of probiotics like lactobacillus or acidophilus. Many popular brands are filled with high fructose corn syrup,artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors and are way too close to being a nutritional equivalent of sugary, fatty ice cream.
Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of goat’s milk and fermented kefir grains. High in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, kefir is also rich in antioxidants. Look for a good, organic version at your local health food shop.
Made from fermented cabbage (and sometimes other vegetables), sauerkraut is not only extremely rich in healthy live cultures, but might also help with reducing allergy symptoms
Probiotics can be added to high-quality dark chocolate, up to four times the amount of probiotics as many forms of dairy.
This refers to super-food ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chorella, and blue-green algae.
Miso is one the main-staples of traditional Japanese medicine and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon of miso to some hot water makes an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup, full of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria.
Believe it or not, the common green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics.
An Asian form of pickled sauerkraut, kimchi is an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage, typically served alongside meals in Korea.
This probiotic drink has been used for centuries and is believed to help increase your energy, enhance your well-being and maybe even help you lose weight.
4. Prebiotic Food (Fiber)
Prebiotics provide food for the bacteria already living in your gut.
“Prebiotics” is a catch-all term that refers to all the different kinds of fiber that encourage beneficial species of gut flora to grow. You can’t digest them, but your gut flora can. Prebiotics are probably already in your diet; you just didn’t realize it.
Some foods high in prebiotic fibers include:
- Dandelion greens
- Wheat Bran
- Garlic and onions (and any vegetables in that family, e.g. leeks)
- Chicory (used in coffee substitutes)
- Jerusalem Artichoke
I applied all this newly found knowledge to my client to see if we had an improvement. After implementing these 4 steps (mainly the pre and probiotics foods) she instantly felt better. Her energy levels increased and she felt much lighter. Her body also began losing weight again after a couple of weeks.
Take a look at your diet and see if you can include some of the pre and probiotics. I have been applying them to my own diet and have also see a huge improvement in energy and vitality.