Hopefully by now you know how important your gut health is to your overall wellbeing. A healthy microbiome usually means a strong immune system, good digestion, and a clearer thinking. About 70 percent of our immune system is housed in the gastrointestinal tract, so protecting it is critical for good immune function.
There are many reasons why our intestinal flora might be out of balance. Antibiotic or other medication use, food sensitivities, infection, or a breakdown in communication between the brain and gut can all interfere with the maintenance of a healthy gut.
Now that we know that bacteria is not our enemy, how do we nurture a healthy relationship with it? How do we begin to rebuild a healthy environment in our digestive system?
- Eat fermented foods – kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and Greek yogurt are all rich in beneficial bacteria.
- Probiotics & prebiotics – if you’re looking to supplement, using a pharmaceutical-grade probiotic can replenish your microbiome. Prebiotics are also available, and act as food for the good bacteria so they can grow and flourish.
- Fiber – gut bacteria love fiber because it makes it to the intestine undigested where bacteria can feast on it, so be sure to eat your fruits and veggies.
- Avoid antibacterial soaps – even the FDA has recently recognized that antibacterial soaps not only do little to nothing to make soap work better, and they may actually contain unsafe ingredients like triclosan. Washing with plain soap and warm water is sufficient to prevent the spreading of germs to others. Soaps, shampoos and other cleansers that will clean your skin without stripping it of the beneficial bacteria are much preferred, such as Mother Dirt, which nurtures and replenishes natural bacteria that normally live on our skin.
- Don’t over sterilize your environment – a little dirt never hurt anyone. In fact, there’s a building body of evidence that it’s actually good for you. Studies show that children raised in ultra-clean environments aren’t exposed to organisms that help them to develop appropriate immune system responses. Obviously things like washing your hands after using the bathroom are habits we should keep, but we shouldn’t live in fear of kissing the family dog or eating that piece of dropped food off of the kitchen floor.
Taking these steps gives your gut flora, the gatekeeper to your immune system, a fighting chance to thrive. Remember that bacteria only become our enemy when things are out of balance. Under normal operating conditions, bacteria support our health and help us to fell and function at our best.
Related Links & Articles:
Babies Know: A Little Dirt is Good For You
Is Fermented Food A Recipe For Good Gut Health?