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Posted on / Dana Bosselmann, MA, RDN, IFNCP

Gut Health Simplified: Adopt These Easy Practices to Build a Healthy Microbiome

From start to finish, what happens in the long inner tube we refer to as the gastrointestinal tract has a tremendous impact on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Studies mapping the diversity of the microbiome, often referred to as the second brain, demonstrate that imbalances in the trillions of bacteria that line the GI tract impact nutrient absorption, appetite, blood sugar regulation, clear thinking, and the ability to maintain a healthy weight.

Additionally, we know that 70 to 80 percent of our immune system lies within our gut. When pathogenic organisms enter the body, the immune system and gut coordinate to quickly eradicate the offending invader and maintain a healthy environment. If the gut is compromised from a poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle choices, or a high toxic load, our immune system cannot operate optimally to keep us healthy and thriving.

Supporting a robust and diversified eco-system in the gut is a top priority for me with all my patients. Read on to learn more about how you too can adopt the same strategies I start with on the road to optimizing gut health.

Fortify Your Foundation

Remove inflammatory foods as the first step in building a resilient gut.   

  • Ultra-processed foods – can you identify what plant/animal the ingredients came from? If not, its highly processed and most likely contains excess sodium, added sugars and industrial seed oils – all gut disruptors
  • Artificial sugar, flavors, and colors – these change hormone satiety signals and disrupt the balance of bacterial species in the gut microbiome
  • Damaged fats – fried food, hydrogenated vegetable oil and even healthy oils like olive oil heated past their smoke point (think grilling) contribute to the inflammatory load
  • Added sugar – found in the healthiest of foods: salsa, soup, hummus, spaghetti sauce, dressings/marinades and even spice mixes, can lead to inflammation and a disruption of the bacteria balance in the gut

Caution with Alcohol

Every individual is different and determining how much and how often to have a drink depends on each person’s current state of health.

In healthy individuals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends no more than one alcoholic beverage for women and 2 glasses for men in a day.

From strictly a nutrition perspective, for those with digestive problems, skin issues, brain fog, fatigue, slow recovery from illness, and disrupted sleep it may be wise to rethink alcohol use in the immediate future and reintroduce once these factors have improved. 

Add in Microbiome Favorite Foods:

  • Fiber
    • Prebiotic rich plant foods - aim for 2 colors of plant foods per meal; choose from fruits and vegetables unless working on blood sugar issues choose more vegetables than fruits
      • Example meals
        • Breakfast – scrambled eggs, spinach, tomato, avocado 
        • Lunch – spring greens, clementine pieces, shredded purple beets, protein (chicken, salmon, shrimp, turkey, beans, organic tofu/tempeh), extra virgin olive oil and balsamic dressing
        • Dinner – Bison or turkey burger, mashed cauliflower, asparagus, red raspberries
  • Choose soluble fiber rich foods vs refined wheat flour or corn-based foods
    • Examples
      • Swap orange sweet potatoes in the morning for toast
      • Substitute a sautéed plantain in coconut oil and sea salt for tortilla chips
      • Steam/pressure cook root vegetables (e.g, parsnips, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga) and mash with Herbamare and olive oil instead of a dinner roll
  • Try resistant starch foods that feed the good bugs in your gut
    • Bob’s Red Mill potato starch (not potato flour!) – 1 to 3 Tbsp. daily in liquid with a slow build to tolerance (start with ¼ tsp and increase every 3 days to allow your microbiome to adjust to this new type of food)
    • Cook and cool starches, eating them cold – white rice, garbanzo and pinto beans, oats, white potatoes, lentils, purple potato, and yams are great options

Set Aside Time to Eat in a Relaxed Atmosphere

Everyday rushing, eating on the go, eating in a distracted way (e.g., on the computer or in front of the TV) keep us in fight or flight mode. This means our sympathetic nervous system is in charge, disrupting the signals to secrete adequate stomach acid and digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Partially digested food reaches the small intestines and can lead to poor absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients as well as digestive discomfort such as gas, bloating and burping.

Consider integrating the following into your day around mealtime:

  • Put away electronic devices while eating
  • Take a few deep breaths before taking your first bite to slow down and become present
  • Allow for at least 15 to 20 minutes to enjoy your food
  • Play calming music while eating
  • Sit down while eating – set the table with a placemat, a vase of flowers nearby, or light a candle to create your own ‘resort’ setting at home
  • If weather allows, try eating outside to soak up some natural light that can help with sleep later in the day

Change Takes Time

Adopt a few new habits at once.  Give yourself a chance to realize how good, good feels! Let others know you are on a journey to improve your health so they can support and/or join you!

If you would like to learn more and develop your own personalized gut healing plan, contact the front desk to schedule a functional nutrition appointment that can start you on the path to excellent health from the inside out!

Health, Nutrition & Diet

Request A Nutrition Info Session

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