Gut Health Webinar for Professionals
Content by: Erin (Nugent) Bern, RD and Contributor for SoulFIRE Health
Did you know? The gut contains hundreds of different species of bacteria, and at least ten different phyla. These bacteria have in impact on our wellbeing… Learn More!
Gut Health has received more attention in recent years! Much of the research is in its earliest stages, and we are learning more everyday to help support and promote wellbeing through gut health.
Understanding the Microbiome:
The gut contains hundreds of different species of bacteria, and at least ten different phyla. Altogether, the microbiome is composed of bacteria, archaea, viruses, and eukaryotic microbes. This microbiome functions like an organ and is responsible for a variety of bodily functions and can affect the entire body, Including the brain.
This microbiome is involved in our most basic bodily functions including digestion and regulating sleep. Beneficial gut bacteria include the ability to synthesize vitamins, help with digestion and absorption of nutrients, balance mood, reduce anxiety, and protect against infections. A healthy gut is also associated with lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and various digestive issues. We can think of the microbiome in the gut as a living thing. Making food choices that promote a diverse microbiome is key.
Foods to Support a Health Microbiome:
It’s vital to the health of the microbiome to also include a variety of prebiotics (foods that provide for the probiotics), in order to fuel and stimulate the function of probiotics.
Eat natural probiotic and prebiotic foods daily and include a variety in the diet natural probiotic and prebiotic food combinations Add a banana to your yogurt, make a smoothie using kefir and add some flax seed, add flavor to salads with pickled vegetables and peas for protein, enjoy Miso soup and added onions/beans.
Natural prebiotics foods: apple, asparagus, bananas, flaxseed, legumes, peas, onions, and whole grains.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans supports an ideal eating pattern to help promote gut health. It recommends making half your grains whole, a variety of fruits and vegetables, a variety of protein sources, and plant based oils. Following these guidelines will assist us in eating foods that will naturally support our microbiome.
Poor Gut Health
What contributes to poor gut health? Our diet! Overall eating patterns with excess amounts of animal protein , processed foods, and foods and beverages high in added sugar.
● Other lifestyle factors such as excess alcohol use are shown to cause dysbiosis and seem to vary by alcohol type.
● Smoking and ongoing inflammation of the digestive tract (when you stop smoking- gut flora improves).
● Sleep deprivation can impact the gut. Bacteria need rest and also dependent on our circadian rhythm.
● Stress! too much stress is shown to reduce good bacteria.
● Antibiotic use. Antibiotics are sometimes necessary, but should not be used excessively. Eating probiotic and prebiotic foods during and after completing a course of antibiotics can help rebuild the population of healthy gut bacteria.
What may indicate an issue?
● Chronic GI S/S (constipation, diarrhea, GERD, bloating, excess gas)
● Food intolerances - multiple or not being able to tolerate foods you used to
● Skin irritations, issues sleeping, extreme food cravings
What is the long term impact?
Immune health/digestion can be significantly impacted. The gut bacteria should act as a barrier to help our bodies filter and appropriately absorb nutrients from what we eat.
Understanding the Gut/Brain Axis
Neurotransmitters are made mostly in the gut, not the brain! It is widely accepted that our state of mind can affect our stomachs but our gut can also affect our brain! The gut is responsible for production and turn over of the neurotransmitters (like serotonin) and protecting the intestinal barrier. When the intestinal wall is damaged (leaky gut)- unwanted pathogens can enter the bloodstream- leading to chronic inflammation which is being linked to anxiety, depression, dementia, and even certain types of cancers.
● Gut health and urinary tract
● Gut health and sleep
● Gut health effects on brain health
● 12 Health Conditions linked to gut and imbalanced microbiome