The gut microbiome is the ecosystem of over 100 trillion microbes that lives in your gastrointestinal tract. This is more than some bacteria living in your gut – the gut microbiome has more genes than your genome, which has earned it the nickname, “the second genome.” This ecosystem makes up 90 percent of the total cells associated with your body mass, meaning only the remaining 10 percent are human cells!
It makes you wonder just how influential these microbes are in every aspect of our health. Understanding this community of bacteria is fundamentally changing the way we study the body.
Did you know that with 90 percent accuracy we could look at the species of microbes living in your gut microbiome and guess whether you’re lean or overweight? The way in which this ecosystem reflects and impacts our health is unraveling before our eyes through cutting-edge research. Through careful manipulation of this ecosystem we have found ways to make being healthier, easier.
Eating For a Healthy Microbiome
How exactly do we manipulate the microbiome?
First, through diet of course. Be sure to add more foods we know to be healthy and supportive of the beneficial bacteria, such as:
- Fermented, probiotic-containing foods – Sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, Lassi, cultured vegetables, and unsweetened, full-fat Greek yogurt.
- Prebiotic foods – Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, onion, garlic, and asparagus.
- Rainbow of fruits and vegetables – Include fruits and vegetables that vary in color for differing nutrients. Please be aware of the sugar in fruits and adjust your consumption as needed to meet all of your dietary goals.
One of the most important things you can do for your gut health is to eat a diversity of food. Just like any other ecosystem, it’s stronger when there’s diversity of organisms. Your gut microbe is more stable and resilient when you eat a variety of foods.
New testing is now available that can tell you how to eat specifically to manipulate the microbes in your gut. More on that later – next I want to show you how exercise can also change your gut microbiota for the better.
Can Exercise Affect Your Microbiome?
The reason it’s such as good idea to manipulate your microbiome is because when the beneficial bacteria are stronger and more plentiful than the harmful bacteria, it makes staying healthy much easier.
A recent study found that when you exercise regularly, it changes the composition of your gut microbiome to favor many beneficial bacteria. Specifically, bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids that help fight inflammation and insulin resistance. As a person becomes more insulin resistant, they have a harder time keeping weight off. Eventually, insulin resistance can lead to diabetes.
This is great news! It means that not only does exercise give you immediate benefits, it also makes staying healthy easier through manipulation of the gut bacteria composition. It’s important to note that this study also found that as soon as a person stopped working out the gut microbiome composition went right back to where it started.
Another study found that women who are active versus those who are sedentary had more health promoting bacteria in their gut microbiome. Researchers found that avoiding long periods of sedentary time, such as sitting at your desk all day, caused positive changes in the microbiome. Even getting up and moving around appears to be an easy, affordable way to positively manipulate your gut microbiome.
These studies suggest exercising regularly should be a lifestyle choice, not something you do every now and then. If you put the work in, the result is a microbiome that works with you – not against you – and that’s a great reason to stay physically active.
Testing Your Gut Microbiome
Options for testing the gut microbiome have grown significantly in the last 10 years. However, the results of this testing are variable, need to be interpreted in the context of a patient’s symptoms and have yet to be validated in clinical trials.
Finding a Gastroenterologist in Fort Worth TX area
You don’t need to walk through the gut testing process alone. Find a gastroenterologist who can take the time to help you optimize your gut microbiome for your best health. My patients are often surprised to see how significant a simple diet or exercise change can be when it is specific to their gut microbiome.
I’ve been helping patients understand their gut microbiome for over 13 years. If you need a gastroenterologist in the Fort Worth, Texas area, you can request an appointment here or call us at 817-267-8470. I encourage you to take control of your gut microbiome and experience how it feels to stay healthy.