Did you know that there are 2-3kg of symbiotic bacteria and fungal organisms living in your gut? This army of organisms (called your microbiome) comprises of bacteria that are equivalent to over 10 times the amount of cells you have in your body.

The role of bacteria and health is discussed in depth here, but let’s take a look at what you can do everyday to help create a healthy microbiome.

  1. Get a water filter

Town water contains chloride to kill off any bug that may harm you. Chlorine is a very effective antibacterial agent so when you drink chlorinated water your gut bacteria will suffer. The best water filters have several stages of filtration including layers to reduce fluoride, heavy metals and other contaminants as well as layers to alkalise and remineralise your water.

  1. Cut back on sugar

Excessive sugar intake, particularly of refined sugars, will disrupt the balance of your microbiome by ‘feeding’ fungal organisms and causing overgrowths. This can lead to candida or other organisms that are endemic to the gut increasing in numbers and crowding out your ‘good’ bacteria.

  1. Eat foods rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre

Fibre provides ‘food’ for your gut bacteria – without it your good guys won’t be able to thrive. Include plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat in the diet to bolster your fibre intake.

  1. Avoid excessive alcohol intake

Drinking alcohol has the same effect as consuming too much sugar as alcohol is carbohydrate rich. The carbohydrates in alcohol can lead to fungal overgrowth and can kill of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Beer in particular can be problematic because it contains yeasts which can cause further disruption in the microbiome.

Too much alcohol can damage your microbiome.

  1. Avoid taking antibiotics

You probably already know that antibiotics damage gut flora. Some gastroenterologists believe that once you take antibiotics your microbiome will never be the same again. The WHO recommends that antibiotics are only used when absolutely necessary however we still see them being used frequently for the common cold when often the illness would resolve on it’s own over time. The advice used to be to always finish a course of antibiotics, but the WHO now recommends that you cease the course of antibiotics as soon as your symptoms subside.

  1. Boost up your natural immunity

The best way to avoid antibiotic use is to boost up your own natural immunity so you don’t get sick as often or as severely. Eating a diet high in vitamin C and bioflavonoid rich foods such as berries, onions, pineapple, paw paw, kiwifruit, lemons, grapefruit, capsicum and passionfruit will help to support your immunity. Eating foods high in zinc such as pepitas, sunflower seeds, organic red meat, oysters, lentils, asparagus and mushrooms will help to boost your white blood cell counts and fight of viruses. Other immune boosting foods are garlic, raw honey, bee pollen and chinese mushrooms.

  1. Eat loads of fermented foods

Fermented foods have loads of natural probiotic bacteria that will help to colonise your gut with the good stuff. We recommend that you eat 2 different types of fermented food each day. You can choose from yoghurt (dairy, cashew or coconut), cashew cheese, fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kim chi etc), kombucha, kefir and many other fermented foods that you can make yourself.

Eating a diet rich in fermented foods will help to bolster your levels of healthy gut bacteria.

If you’re going to choose one thing to focus on for wellness we recommend it be your gut health. Following these tips will help you to build a healthy microbiome that will provide benefit to your immune and nervous system and help you to ward off disease.

Professional help for healing the gut

Our naturopaths help people with gut problems every day. If you haven’t been following these guidelines or have a history of high antibiotic use then it is worthwhile ordering a CSA (comprehensive stool assessment) to check out your levels of good vs bad bacteria. From this information your naturopath can provide a tailored gut rehabilitation program using herbal antimicrobials and probiotics along with a specific diet to support gut health.

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