Many of us fail to realize that numerous symptoms we may experience stem from the gut microbiome. Indigestion problems, headaches, anxiety, joint pain, skin issues, allergies, and weight gain can all be signs of a gut imbalance.
As touched upon in the “Neuroscience: The Mind-Gut Connection” post, there is most definitely a connection between stress, gut imbalances, and mood. With that being said, facing stress is almost inevitable so it is extremely important to prevent harm to the microbiome. The microbiome is very fragile and requires frequent maintenance since everyday things like eating processed food, aging, traveling, becoming ill, drinking, taking pharmaceutical medications, and chronic stress can all affect the delicate system.
Things like eating well, exercising, sleeping enough, replenishing good bacteria, and taking care of digestive issues can help protect the microbiome. Nutrition plays an essential role as many vitamins like vitamin K and vitamin B are made and absorbed by the gut. Vitamin K is crucial for bone health and blood coagulation while vitamin B is necessary for brain and heart health. It is recommended to avoid processed foods and to consume foods rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. This can help take some of the burden off of the body.
Exercising and sleeping well are always important to optimal health. Many recent studies have concluded that exercise can boost the amount of useful microbial species and encourage more microflora diversity. As for sleep, it is known that the microbiome communicates with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in order to regulate sleep. That also means that a damaged microbiome can negatively affect sleep which can lead to other problems.
It is especially important to replenish the body with good bacteria after being on medications like antibiotics or undergoing immense amounts of stress. Probiotics can be an easy fix, but it is very important to get a probiotic with multiple strains of bacteria. The more diverse it is, the more beneficial it is. Moving on, solving indigestion issues can also take the stress off of the gut and can allow the microbiome to thrive. Things like probiotics, Blessed Thistle, and glutamine can aid digestion problems.
Overall, protecting the gut is key to preventing many unwanted symptoms or illnesses. It can be a challenge but should be made a top priority.