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How to Improve Your Microbiome
By Dr. Josh Axe
August 9, 2022
There’s a reason the gut microbiome gets so much attention: It’s within someone’s gut where many bodily functions take place every day that are essential for survival and overall health. For example, the vast majority of the immune system is located inside one’s gut.
How can you improve your gut microbiome? If you’re looking to learn how to increase good bacteria in your gut naturally, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll show you how to eat in a way that supports growth of healthy gut microbes, plus explain “gut disruptors” you’ll want to avoid.
Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including dietary supplementation.
Your microbiome is the community of organisms (or microbes) living inside your gut. There are actually trillions of these microbes populating your gastrointestinal tract as we speak, including various types of bacteria and yeast.
This may sound scary, but it’s actually a very good thing — considering many microbes have positive effects on digestive function, a healthy immune system, energy production and much more.
You can actually thank the microorganisms in your gut, as well as other parts of your body such as your mouth, for helping to keep you alive.
You need them to help promote a healthy immune system, to absorb and produce nutrients, and to eliminate waste. They even help to manage your appetite, a healthy weight and your overall outlook or mindset.
Wondering: what can I eat to improve my microbiome? The goal is to include plenty of the best foods for gut health in your daily diet, such as probiotic and prebiotic foods.
Here are some of the top foods for a healthy gut microbiome:
Probiotic foods — This includes things like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented soy products. What do probiotic foods do to your gut? They contain a wide range of “live and active cultures” plus other nutrients that support digestion and overall health. Eating them promotes a healthy balance of microbes in the gut, which is useful for keeping you healthy and reducing occasional constipation, gas and bloating. You can even learn how to ferment foods at home.
Prebiotic foods/high-fiber foods — Some of the best sources include: leafy greens, onions, garlic, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, underripe bananas, berries, seeds, nuts, whole grains and legumes. These help to provide “fuel” that probiotic bacteria thrive off of, allowing them to flourish.
Antioxidant-rich foods — Antioxidant foods, such as berries, leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, herbs and spices, cocoa, red wine and green tea function as beneficial foods that contribute to general health. If you find it hard to squeeze enough of these into your meals, try Ancient Nutrition’s Organic SuperGreens powder, in which you'll find superfoods like wheatgrass, spirulina, beatroot, oat grass and more that contribute to healthy digestion, energy and detoxification as well as reducing occasional constipation, gas, and bloating.
Vitamin C and magnesium foods — These nutrients help to nourish the gut lining, fight free radicals , and aid in elimination by supporting normal muscular functions. Some of the top sources are: kiwi, citrus fruits, spinach, kale, pineapple, mango, bell peppers, dark chocolate, yogurt and cruciferous veggies like Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, whole grains and bananas.
Bone broth (which provides collagen) — Collagen is a type of structural protein that helps to form and support a healthy gut lining and gut, which is where the majority of your immune system is located. Consuming more collagen, both from supplements such as our Multi Collagen Protein and from bone broth, can support gut lining integrity which is essential for functions such as nutrient absorption.
What can you eat to balance your gut microbiome after taking antibiotics?
All of the foods listed above are great choices, especially those with probiotics such as yogurt and sauerkraut. Since antibiotics can kill off both good and bad bacteria living in your gut, you want to replenish the good types ASAP by eating probiotic-rich fermented foods. As always, you should consult your healthcare professional.
While supplements shouldn’t replace a healthy diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense gut-friendly foods, taking a probiotic supplement is still a smart way to support gut health.
Probiotic supplements, whether in capsule or gummy form, serve as a convenient way to obtain strains of microbes that are known to benefit overall gut health.
Ancient Nutrition’s SBO Probiotics provide not only special types of soil-based organism (SBO) probiotics, but also prebiotics and postbiotics for even more positive effects on your microbiome. Together, these three — which we call the “trifecta” for gut health — support your digestive system and help keep gut function on track.
SBOs are a particular type of probiotic found in soil that are considered “hardy” and tolerant to the harsh conditions of the stomach, which helps with their absorption. Taking SBO probiotics regularly can help reduce occasional constipation, bloating and flatulence/gassiness, and can support healthy immune system function. An added benefit: They don’t need to be refrigerated like many other types of probiotics.
Ancient Nutrition offers several types of SBO Probiotics based on individual needs, including SBO Probiotics Gut Restore (provides 25 billion CFUs per serving at time of manufacture) and SBO Probiotics Ultimate (provides 50 billion CFUs per serving at time of manufacture).
A number of foods and lifestyle habits can take a toll on gut function, including that they can disrupt the balance of “gut bugs” in your microbiome.
Things to avoid in order to support your microbiome include:
Consuming too much sugar, including from sweetened drinks, desserts, sweetened dairy products, cereals and snack bars. Sugar can feed unhealthy bacteria in your gut, which is the opposite of what you want. Instead, opt for complex carbs and foods with natural sugar plus fiber, such as low-sugar fruit.
High consumption of alcohol and smoking cigarettes, both of which can trigger over-the-top inflammation and hinder healthy immune system function.
Chronic stress, which impacts hormonal health and may even negatively impact the gut lining (where many hormones and neurotransmitters are made). To keep it under control, try things like exercise, deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness exercises like yoga, reading and journaling.
Sleep deprivation, another source of bodily stress. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night.
Being too sedentary. Your body requires movement to stay healthy and to detoxify itself, so build exercise into your daily routine.
Taking antibiotics when not necessary (use of antibiotics should ideally be limited to when you really need them). Consult your healthcare professional about this.
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential OIls: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and Ancient Remedies.