Ah the microbiome, a hot topic in today's world though something that has been present since the beginning of humankind. Think of the body as a planet, home to trillions of organisms - bacteria in the intestines, on the skin, in the nose, in/on the reproductive organs. This is our microbiome.
All of these places on our body create a unique ecosystem with different temperatures, water content, oxygen levels, and nutrient variety. Each ecosystem has a different community of microbes, and each person's microbiome is unique.
While there are aspects of the microbiome that we are still learning about, there are some things that we know for sure: a healthy balance of bacteria in and on the body helps promote digestion and absorption of food, a healthy immune system, encourages healthy metabolism, and positively affects mental health. Let's take a deeper dive into the how and why.
The gastrointestinal system (AKA digestive system) is on a two-way communication street with the central nervous system (AKA brain and spinal cord). The communication between the 2 involves hormones, neurotransmitters, and blood flow.
The term "anxious belly" and "gut feeling" are more than just a turn of phrase. Studies show that having a diverse microbiome can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve problem solving in adults!
On the flip side of this, there are studies that show increased rates of depression and anxiety in people that chronically take antibiotics - a group of medications that clears away all bad and good bacteria!
Here are a few things that you can do to ensure that your microbiome is healthy, diverse, and strong!
- Eat fermented foods, like kefir, sauerkraut, & kombucha
- Eat a balanced, whole foods diet
- Play outside & get regular physical activity
- Have pets! Get dirty!
- Eat prebiotics, like asparagus, garlic, onions, and bananas
- For your children, as your body is able: have a vaginal birth, breastfeed, have skin-on-skin contact at birth
- After taking antibiotics, take a high quality probiotic to repopulate the gut. Want recommendations? Feel free to contact me!