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How to Support and Heal the Microbiome

  • 5 min read

Have you ever shaken a snow globe and watched all the particles dance around?  That’s basically the microorganisms in your gut that make up your microbiome. Every little thing we eat is a small particle dancing around in one big gut universe.

And why should we care about microorganisms we can’t see swirling around in our gut? Because they directly influence if we are happy, sad, healthy, or sick. Keep reading to find out more about how and why our diet plays a big role in our gut microbiome.

What is a Microbiome?

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert / Via media.giphy.com

Microbes are bacteria, fungi, and viruses that naturally exist in your lovely body. A collection of microbes is called a microbiome. Microbes are microscopic in size but bring so many health benefits like helping with digestion, boosting immunity, and much more. (We like to think of them as love bugs.) When our microbiomes are healthy, we are more likely to be healthy.

Why is a Healthy Microbiome Important? 

We have to go back in time for this answer. Research shows that a hunter-gatherer’s microbiome is a good model for identifying critical organisms and functionality. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had more variations of food compared to us today and in turn, had a healthier composition of microbiomes. Because they had to hunt and forage for food, they consumed a wide variety of foods which lead to more health benefits. Ancient man did not have the ability to order pizza online at any time.

So what happens? An imbalance of unhealthy microbes in our intestines can contribute to weight gain, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels, and other disorders. 

If that wasn’t enough. 70% of our immune system is located in the gut. The microbiota in a microbiome stimulates the immune system and having a healthy microbiome will protect the body from pathogenic organisms in contaminated food and drinks.

The Microbiome Diet

So you may have seen this coming. There is a microbiome diet created by Dr. Raphael Kellman, to keep our microbiome healthy. This is not an endorsement of the diet but to educate. This diet comes in three phases: The Four R’s, Metabolic, and Maintenance phases. 

The Four R’s Phase

Also known as the strictest phase, the Four R’s takes care of intestinal health by balancing the gut flora as it is based on the “Four Rs” of intestinal health: Remove, Repair, Replace, and Reinoculate. 

Remove. This means taking out foods that prevent you from having a healthy gut microbiome like food toxins, and harmful chemicals that may cause inflammation or an imbalance in your gut bacteria, including pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and certain medications.

Repair. Heal the gut wall and support the microbiome by increasing the consumption of plant foods and supplements.

Replace. Add certain herbs, spices, and supplements that can improve the gut bacteria quality by replacing stomach acid and digestive enzymes.

Reinoculate. Cure the gut by increasing the healthy bacteria through the consumption of probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods and supplements. 

What to eat: Consume prebiotic-rich foods, like asparagus, garlic, and onion, and add fermented foods rich in probiotics to your food lists like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt. 

What to avoid: grains, eggs, most legumes, dairy, as well as starchy fruits and vegetables. Sugar, fried foods, some types of fats, fish, and meat should also be included in the food to avoid list. 

The Metabolic Boost Phase

Metabolic Boost lasts 28 days and by this time it is assumed that the gut and microbiome have improved. In this phase, you continue your four R’s diet on most days, but this phase allows a little bit of flexibility that you can now add dairy, free-range eggs, gluten-free grains, and legumes back to your diet. You can also include most fruits and vegetables again, such as mangoes, melons, peaches, pears, sweet potatoes, and yams.

The Maintenance Phase 

The maintenance phase has no specific time frame and at this point, the gut and microbiome are assumed to be fully healed. Although the foods to avoid remain the same as in the first phase, you can eat what you want 30% of the time or about one meal per day. You continue following the diet until you meet your health goals. 

Is the Microbiome Diet for Everyone?

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As with any diet, this microbiome diet has its advantages and disadvantages.  We are not advocating or dissuading anyone from this particular diet just educating.  Many diets may not be necessary for all people or simply not work. Always talk to your doctor if you are considering diet and lifestyle changes. 

Foods to Support a Healthy Microbiome

The Microbiome Diet aside there are ways to target the improvement of our gut microbiome.

As mentioned earlier, our hunter-gatherer ancestors have a more diversified diet compared to us that’s why their gut microbiome composition is more ideal. We can replicate their gut microbiome by diversifying our diet. Examples below:

Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi;
Non-starchy vegetables like carrots, garlic, artichokes, leeks, asparagus, onions, and radishes;
Non-starchy fruits like apples, tomatoes, avocado, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, and cherries);
Nuts and seeds;
Oils like sunflower olive;
Chickpeas and lentils;
Wild salmon and grass-fed meat; and
Herbs and spices 

Take Probiotics

Probiotics are the live microorganisms in our gut that comes with health benefits. In short, they are the good bacteria in our gut. Probiotics help the body sustain healthy microorganisms, recuperate after an illness, and help with the body’s immune system. Probiotics are found in yogurt, dietary supplements, and even beauty products. 

Eat More Prebiotic Fiber

We talked about probiotics, now let’s talk about prebiotics more. While probiotics are good bacteria, prebiotics is the food for the probiotics to keep them healthy. Like probiotics, it is also good for the gut and comes with a lot of health benefits such as support for the immune system, weight management, and bone health. Add prebiotic-rich foods to your food lists like chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, banana, and barley. 

Add Soy to your diet 

Research suggests that soy foods have a beneficial effect on the gut microbiota by increasing the levels of bifidobacteri and lactobacilli, good bacteria for the gut. Bonus: soy is high in fiber!

Get Your Vitamins

Taking vitamin supplements is helpful for the gut microbiome because they help increase and maintain microbial diversity. Look for vitamins A, B2, C, D, E, K, and beta-carotene.

Things to Avoid: Sugar, Processed Foods, & Trans Fats

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Avoid added sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and processed foods. Sugar and high fructose negatively impact the gut microbes by disrupting the intestinal barrier which leads to conditions leading to infection susceptibility. Plus high sugar levels are known to cause health issues like diabetes.  

Packaged or processed foods are full of additives, colorings, and chemicals, as well as sodium and other ingredients that may harm the gut.

Avoid Trans Fats. Transfats are known to increase inflammation and have been found to be related to risk for the increased health issues including heart disease and damage to blood vessels and can cause the reduction of microbial diversity of the gut. 

While it is hard to keep track of the food list on what to eat and what to avoid, another excellent way to improve our gut microbiome is to take prebiotic supplements like Bonny.

Bonny and the Microbiome

To optimize our gut health, the USDA recommends that we consume 25 grams of dietary for women and 38 grams for men but sadly 95% of Americans do not meet those numbers on a daily basis. This is where Bonny comes to the rescue.

Bonny is a plant-based, all-natural fiber supplement that tastes amazing and makes you go poop.  We contain a customblend fiber powder made up of ingredients like psyllium husk and inulin.

You can choose among four amazing flavors: Amplified Apple Pie, Berry Beauty, Matcha Magic, and Strawberry Serenity. Adding Bonny to a fiber-rich diet increases the chances of having a healthy gut microbiome.

As always, we wish you a healthy gut and pleasant poops!

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