Updated: May 3, 2021
"BUGS?!? What bugs in my gut? You are telling me there are bugs in my gut?!"
I am referring, of course, to our gut bacteria. We all have them. We have beneficial bacteria, as well as not-so-beneficial bacteria. The total of all of these "bugs" as I call them, is our microbiome (literally translated as "tiny bug home"), and recent science is showing that we actually have an estimated 100 trillion bacteria residing in our gut, mostly in the colon. The better we take care of our "gut bugs" the better our body and brain health will be.
Our gut bacteria actually use the food we eat to create nutrients our body and brain need. They balance the immune system, protect the lining of our intestines, and defend against harmful bacteria that enter the gut. A healthy body of bacteria can protect against "leaky gut", help prevent allergies, help prevent intestinal illnesses, lower our risk of colorectal cancers and even help moderate our mood (did you know the gut bacteria actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the gut?). Serotonin, the "happy hormone" is made in our gut!
So, how do we protect and keep our gut bacteria balanced and healthy?
Three words: Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Psychobiotics.
You may have heard the word Probiotics before, but the other two may be new.
Essentially, Prebiotics are the fiber that we eat, which then ferments into food for the healthy bacteria in our gut. This is why a diet rich in natural, healthy (not man-made) fiber is so important.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that we add to our gut to help populate the gut with more healthy bacteria...many times we supplement with probiotics, when in actuality, we just need more good prebiotic nutrition to feed the gut.
Psychobiotics is a relatively new term, meaning the bugs in our gut that produce the neurochemicals we need for a healthy brain and a healthy gut. Things like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which impact our mental health. (Did you know your FOOD actually can be the most powerful anti-depressant?!)
To best ensure our body has the balance of these three "-biotics", we want to be providing our gut with it's favorites:
High fiber foods, like fresh, raw, fruits, veggies and berries
Fewer processed foods where the fiber and other nutrients have been stripped out
Lots of rich, brightly colored produce- those colors are the antioxidants and indicate healthy fiber!
Eat organic as often as possible, and be sure to chew well- take your time and allow your body to digest your food!
Medications, Alcohol, Stress, and Dehydration all play a factor in depleting your "-biotics" too, so be aware of that as well, and listen to your body.
There is so much more to share about our gut! If you want to learn more, be sure to connect with me for a personal consult.
In the meantime, know that your gut health impacts you physically as well as mentally, and it may be the most powerful thing you can do to work on a healthy gut for overall health.