7 Evidence-Based Lifestyle Changes to Optimize Your Gut Microbiome
Emerging research is showing more and more that the microbiome is incredibly important for health. This also means there’s an increasing amount of false information online about the microbiome.
The truth is that you have a two-way relationship with your gut flora and it takes a lot more than probiotics to optimize them. As a holistic gut health company, we’ve dived deep into the latest microbiome research.
Here are the 7 little-known factors you should take into account when optimizing your gut flora and health.
1. Manage Stress
Mental and emotional stress can negatively affect your gut flora.
A study examined Lactobacilli levels in the stool, along with subjective stress and cortisol levels. They found that the longer the participants are exposed to exam stress, the less Lactobacilli they have.
PowerMove: To optimize your gut flora, it’s crucial to manage stress and work to improve your stress resilience over time.
2. Improve Your Relationship Quality
Loneliness and toxic relationships can ruin your gut flora, just as we’ve always known that loneliness ruins health and shortens lifespan.
Your relationship quality shapes your microbiota, according to a study published in Nature Scientific Reports. The study looked at the microbiota of 94 couples and 83 sibling pairs. They found that spouses had more similar microbiomes, even when shared diet was accounted for. Married individuals had better bacteria diversity and richness than those living alone. Also, couples who reported having close relationships had the greatest gut bacteria diversity.
Another Chimpanzee study published in Science found that frequent social interactions among the chimps created more microbial diversity and richness.
PowerMove: To improve your overall health and microbiome, it’s important to work on your relationships and community.
3. Sleep And Optimize Your Circadian Rhythm
The gut microbiota has day/night rhythms that respond to our fasting and feeding cycles. Therefore, circadian rhythm and sleep disruptions can change gut bacteria. For example, healthy young men with 4.25 hours of sleep for 2 nights have increased Firmicutes relative to Bacteroidetes, among other changes.
In mice, sleep deprivation increases bacteria strains that feed on undigested foods. These bacteria changes may be one reason why sleep deprivation and thrown off circadian rhythm can cause weight gain.
4. Feed Your Gut Flora Right
Studies show that the food you feed the gut flora can turn over your microbiota in the span of 2 – 3 days. Aside from probiotics and prebiotics, plant polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids feed the good gut bacteria.
Conversely, high fat meals, especially saturated fats, feed Firmicutes, the bacteria associated with weight gain. These foods also reduce gut flora diversity. Fried foods, and foods high in salt, and sugar can be bad for the gut flora.
The response to certain foods associated with cardiovascular risk may depend on your microbiome. For example, if you have gut bacteria that convert carnitine and choline into trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), then red meat can be extra bad for your heart health.
You can get a blood test for TMAO, although the test is relatively new. Also, if your blood sugar control and other cardiovascular markers tend to get worse with more red meat, then it’s possible that your gut flora tends to produce TMAO.
PowerMove: Feed your gut flora right. Also, consider testing your gut flora with a test like Ubiome to see what foods your gut bacteria like to eat the most.
5. Remove The Sources Of Inflammation
The friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, are anaerobic bacteria. They are more comfortable with no oxygen around. The bad bacteria, such as Streptococci, tend to like oxygen.
Healthy gut linings have well-functioning mitochondria, which use up all the oxygen, creating a zero-oxygen environment for these friendly bacteria. Whereas, unhealthy gut cells have poorly functioning mitochondria, leaving oxygen available for bad bacteria. While dysbiosis causes inflammation, gut inflammation also allows dysbiosis and makes your gut less hospitable to friendly bacteria.
An inflamed gut makes a great breeding ground for dysbiosis. Conversely, the dysbiosis can add to the inflammation.
PowerMoves: In order to rebalance your microbiome, you have to remove any gut irritants, including foods that are causing inflammation and infections.
6. Eliminate The Bad, Reseed The Good
Changing over your microbiota typically takes quite a bit more than just probiotics alone. So, you may need a full-on weed and reseed protocol.
Gut infections, such as fungi or parasites, can cause dysbiosis by causing gut inflammation and inhibiting the growth of good bacteria. Herbal Parasite Cleanse can help with killing parasites and pathogenic yeasts. Whereas, P3-OM produces postbiotics that inhibit bad bacteria and yeast to make room for the good ones, which can shift over the overall microbiota composition.
Biome Breakthrough contains IgYmax, a mixture of egg-based antibodies, which can target and remove 26 strains of bad bacteria. IgYmax has been clinically shown to reduce gut lining inflammation and improve the overall gut bacteria composition. Biome Breakthrough also contains beneficial bacteria that can form biofilm to replace the bad bacteria, along with prebiotics that improve probiotics’ survival and overall microbiota.
PowerMoves: Some people can reset their gut flora with just Biome Breakthrough, while others need a more comprehensive protocol. This is why we created the 90-day gut cleanse. Also, consider working with a practitioner who can order tests for these gut infections.
7. Optimize Your Digestion, Especially Protein And Fat
Suboptimal digestion can leave a lot of undigested foods for your bacteria and immune system. Poor fat digestion may drive dysbiosis and leaky gut. Also, undigested or partially digested proteins can act as allergens that cause gut inflammation. If your body doesn’t fully digest and absorb the amino acids before your food reaches the large intestine, leftover amino acids can get converted into harmful metabolites.
Good gut bacteria generally feeds on leftover fibers and carbohydrates, such as resistant starch. Fermenting the carbohydrates tends to create beneficial postbiotics like short-chain fatty acids acetate, propionate, and butyrate.
While most amino acids are eventually fermented into short-chain fatty acids, some of them can get fermented into substances that may be toxic, such as amines, ammonia, phenols, and sulfur compounds. Some of these, like agmatine and cadaverine, may have some health benefits.
Other gut bacteria metabolites from fermenting amino acids can work as neurotransmitters or interfere with neurotransmitter functions. For example, kynurenine is an important tryptophan and serotonin metabolite that affects the gut-brain axis. In the presence of inflammation, it can get converted into quinolinic acid, which is neurotoxic. Quinolinic acid can contribute to depression and anxiety.
Therefore, it is important to optimize digestion and provide your body with enough digestive capacity, especially if you’re working toward optimal health or to address the root causes of inflammation.
As you can see, numerous lifestyle factors beyond food affect your gut microbiome. This is because you have a two-way relationship with your gut microbes. Be unhappy, unhealthy, and inflamed, and you’ll breed bad bacteria. So, it’s important to pay attention to other aspects of health, such as sleeping well and maintaining healthy relationships, to optimize your microbiome.
How have you been supporting your healthy gut flora?
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