There are over a 100 trillion bacteria in the human gut. For every 1 of your cells there are about 10 trillion microbial cells just hanging out. Mic drop. WHAT? There are bugs living in my gut?
Kind of crazy right? If this is common knowledge, then why is still so shocking when we hear about the impact bacteria have on everything from vitamin absorption and digestion to our emotional wellbeing?
For me what the bacteria in our guts impact no longer surprises me. Wise Hippocrates stated “all disease begins in the gut”. From diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis & anxiety to heart health imbalances with these little bugs have been associated with just about every chronic illness. They impact how much serotonin— the happiness hormone —we produce. They impact our bowel movements. They impact inflammation.
Here in the United States we’re especially prone to gut health changes. A person who consumes a standard American diet (as I like to call it the SAD diet) has an increase in leaky gut by 71% in just one month.
Leaky what? Leaky gut is a condition in where the gut bacteria become disrupted and the lining that protects the rest of our body from food particles breaks down, food particles are allowed to leak into the blood stream, the immune system ramps up and as a result we experience a low grade inflammation throughout the body. Spoiler alert: inflammation ain’t great. It has been associated with everything from diabetes, arthritis & depression to heart disease.
So you’re probably wondering how do I keep these little monsters happy? Good news guys, theres a ton we can do. So lets start with what to reduce:
Omega-6 oils (like corn, soy, cottonseed, safflower, etc)
Poor Sleep Hygiene
And then when to increase:
Fiber (7-13 servings veggies & fruits/day - mostly veggies)
Omega-3 fats (walnut, flax, chia, avocados, leafy greens, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines)
Pre-biotic Foods (also food for those bacteria): almonds, asparagus, banana, dandelion greens, eggplant, endive, garlic, honey, jerusalem artichokes, jicama, kefir, leeks, legumes, onions, peas, radicchio.
Pro-biotics & Pro-biotic Foods
Probiotics? What kind do I take? Do I need to take one? What do they do? Well my friends there is no one size fits all approach to probiotics. Yes, in general they are beneficial but if there is something specific you’re trying to accomplish taking a strain of bacteria that are good for anxiety might not help your constipation. Since there are 500-1000 different strains living inside of you. I’ve included recommendations for the right strains of bacteria for specific conditions below. As always if you have questions, reach out. I’m always here to support you!
Remember, if you’ve been taking a high quality probiotic supplement for several months and you’re not seeing improvement in your symptoms it may be necessary to undergo a full gut reset to wipe up an pathogens or bacteria overgrowths in not so helpful places such as the small intestine. You can find more information on Gut Resets Here.