I’m not going to sugar coat it: tiny aliens are living in your body! Also known as bacteria, these organisms play a vital role in your health. There is much that is still a mystery when it comes to the role of these ‘intelligent’ bacteria, but scientific studies paint a very interesting picture of what is actually going on in your gut. The health of your microbiome—which is composed of all the bacteria, fungi, proteins and viruses that live inside your body—plays a major role in your health overall.
Bacteria are not bad. On the contrary, bacteria are crucial for developing a strong and effective immune system, for fighting disease, and for overall body function. Recent studies have discovered that our gut health affects all kinds of function, from our immune system to our moods. Where you live, how much you move and exercise, what you eat and the stresses you experience all play a role in how healthy your microbiome is. Our bacteria even reflect our genetic make-up and the health of our parents!
So how does this information affect the way we take care of ourselves? Do we need to take a more proactive approach to providing our guts with the bacteria that can assist us with elevating our overall function? The answer is simple: YES! In fact, perhaps the most surprising aspect of recent scientific studies is how much we can positively change our gut health by our lifestyle choices.
And those changes happen fast. “We found that the bacteria that lives in peoples’ guts is surprisingly responsive to changes in diet,” Lawrence David, professor at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy and one of the study’s authors, says. “Within days we saw not just a variation in the abundance of different kinds of bacteria, but in the kinds of genes they were expressing.” (Scientific American). So instead of weeks or months, just 3 or 4 days of eating healthy whole foods is enough to transform your gut health. And that in turn, affects your health on a cellular level.
Here are Nimble’s top ways to start nurturing your body’s other brain–your gut!
- Eat whole foods! You really are what you eat. Eating whole, unprocessed, organically produced food is what your body was intended to do.
- Limit sugar intake! Bad bacteria feed on sugar, so first, we have to cut the crap.
- Eliminate soda! This goes in line with sugar, but it deserves its own shout-out because of all the chemicals in soda that kill good bacteria. And scientists are rapidly proving that the sugar substitutes in diet soda are worse for you than the sugar itself!
- Move your body! Exercise has been proven to change the way we break down proteins, release insulin, store fat, etc.
- Eat kefir, yogurt and other probiotic-enhanced foods regularly. Just keep an eye out for added sugar in the yogurt!
- Take a probiotic supplement.
- Get outside and get dirty! Bacteria from nature can actually be quite beneficial to your immune system.
- De-Stress. Give your body back the energy it needs to develop and host the healthy bacteria.
My question to you is: which one or two of these behaviors or habits are at the top of your list? These are simple changes that can have big benefits! For some of us cutting the sugar may be the big shift we need to promote a healthier microbiome. Another person might need to introduce more healthy bacteria to their nutrition plan. While another person may need a full healing program to spark the change needed.
Time to re-charge your gut!