I have loved being in the nutrition and wellness industry because there is always something new to learn. Research shows us everyday new findings about our health and well being, yet it amazes me that there are so many unhealthy people in this world and mostly from lifestyle choices. The most exciting research in my opinion has been on the gut microbiome. We all know that eating healthy, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and exercising is all good for us but the links to our gut microbiome is compelling. I wanted to share with you the top 5 most exciting things that I learned in 2016 about how to stay healthy and well in 2017.
- The network of neurons lining the gut has been nicknamed our second brain. It is known as the enteric nervous system and spans the length of the gut from esophagus to the end.(1) It acts independently from our brain and seems to control many aspects of our health like hormones, moods, and our immune system. The trillions of bacteria that reside in our gut have been shown to communicate with this enteric nervous system.
- We all know that sleep is important but many of us tend to burn the candle at both ends. It doesn’t just lead to being cranky and tired. It has a major effect on the balance of our gut flora. It seems that not only do we heal and repair during sleep but so does our gut bacteria.(2) The link between our gut bacteria and sleep is very important. Having a healthy gut balance will help you sleep better and sleeping better supports a healthier gut.
- Exercise is one of the healthiest habits to maintain throughout our lifetime. Not only does it help maintain a healthy weight, keep our hearts strong, and boost our moods…studies have shown that athletes have a bigger diversity of gut bacteria.(3) This could also be that the more active you are, the better your diet seems to be…so get moving!
- Make sure you drink enough water! Water helps to flush toxins from our bodies and keeps our digestive systems moving. Toxins and slow digestion affect our gut bacteria. Studies show that the gut flora of patients with chronic constipation is different than those with healthy digestion.(4) Without enough water, you can’t efficiently digest your food which can alter your gut flora. Toxins can also kill off your good bacteria. Make sure you drink filtered water because chlorinated water can also affect your gut microbiome. I like to drink alkaline water because it helps my body maintain a healthier pH balance, which is also very beneficial for our gut flora.
- This one is pretty basic as well, but tends to be difficult for people to adhere to…eat whole, unprocessed foods. Our Standard American Diet (which is being adopted by much of the world) is making us sick! In my practice I see so many people with metabolic syndrome. This is a collection of symptoms that include large waist circumference, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and elevated blood sugars. Studies have shown that high glycemic foods (foods that raise blood sugars quickly) and more processed foods negatively alter the bacteria balance in your gut.(5) People who have more Parabacteroides distasonis, a bacterial species associated with obesity, tend to have a higher glycemic response to certain foods. Eating a whole food diet that contains good quality fiber instead of highly processed foods will help you body to grow healthier bacteria that helps promote a healthier you. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes help feed the good bacteria in our guts as well as taking nutritional supplements like EpiCor fermentate that has been scientifically shown to provide our bodies with prebiotic power by supporting billions of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
With all this research into the gut microbiome, I believe that we will be able to help people adopt healthier habits that promote a life of wellness. For yummy ideas on how to incorporate foods into your diet that help balance check out my blog posts from 2016. I am looking forward to sharing more with you in 2017!