Trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeast, fungi, viruses, and parasites, live all over your body. However, most of these microorganisms are found in your gut. Collectively, the microorganisms are known as the gut microbiome.
Though you may find it hard to believe that any bacteria or virus is good for you, the collection of microorganisms that live in your gut play a significant role in the day-to-day function of your body. In fact, your gut microbiome supports immune system function, makes vitamins, and may protect you from chronic diseases like cancer.
At Weston Medical Health & Wellness, our medical director, Dr. Andrea Bretal, wants nothing more than to provide you with the tools you need to live your best life. That’s why she partners with practitioners who specialize in functional medicine.
Functional medicine takes a more holistic approach to health and wellness, which is where your gut microbiome comes into play. Here, we want to share ways you can improve your gut microbiome and the benefits of doing so.
Your gut microbiome is like your fingerprint, unique to you. Initially, your DNA determines the makeup of the microorganisms in your gut, along with the microorganisms you pick up from your mother during birth and from breast milk.
Over time, your gut microbiome changes based on the types of foods you eat and your environmental exposures. These changes may benefit your health or increase your risk of disease.
However, each person has a mix of good and bad microorganisms in their gut. And, for the most part, as long as everything remains in balance, the bad microorganisms won’t cause harm.
But when an imbalance in your gut microbiome occurs, which may develop from an infection, diet choices, or prolonged use of antibiotics, your risk of disease increases.
Though you can’t control your DNA or the environmental factors that influence the makeup of your gut microbiome, you can control your diet. Making changes to your diet can improve your gut microbiome.
We recommend adding prebiotic and probiotic foods to maintain the proper balance of good and bad microorganisms in your gut.
Prebiotics are the indigestible fibers your body can’t break down, and they’re a food source for the microorganisms in your gut. When indigestible fibers reach your large intestine, the microorganisms release enzymes that ferment them and break them down.
During the fermentation process, there’s an increase in short-chain fatty acid levels in your gut, which lowers the pH, making the gut environment more acidic. Bad bacteria may not thrive in a more acidic environment.
To feed the good microorganisms in your gut and improve your microbiome, eat foods high in fiber like fruits, vegetables, and beans. Bananas, leeks, garlic, and asparagus contain a type fiber called inulin that’s especially beneficial for improving gut health.
Probiotics are a popular dietary supplement that contain strains of the friendly bacteria found in your gut. If you’re thinking about adding probiotics to your daily routine, we can help you find the right one.
However, probiotics are also found in fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Eating these foods each day gives your gut a healthy supply of good bacteria that helps keep things in balance.
Your microbiome plays an important role in maintaining general health and well-being. It helps digest food, regulates your immune system, and protects against toxic pathogens. Your microbiome also makes vitamins, including vitamin B12, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin K.
But improving the balance of your gut microbiome also protects you from disease. Though still under investigation, it’s possible your gut microbiome may prevent chronic health problems such as:
Your gut microbiome may also influence your weight, increasing your risk of obesity. Though in the early stages of research, scientists have found that an imbalance in the gut microbiome may increase appetite and calorie absorption, as well as the breakdown of fat.
Improving your gut microbiome benefits your overall health and well-being. Let us help you restore balance. Call our office in Weston, Florida, or click the button to request an appointment with our functional medical expert.