Why a Balanced Microbiome Is Important for the Immune System and Good Health
If you tend to get sick more than most people, it could be a problem that’s linked with your gut. Maybe you don’t think much about your gut, but what goes on there can largely affect your health and immune system. In fact, the bacteria in your gut, known as the microbiome, plays a huge role in your immune system. Here is why it’s critical that your gut microbiome is balanced, along with the importance of eating the right foods.
The Role of the Microbiome in Health
First of all, you may be asking, “just what do you mean by the microbiome?” Simply put, the microbiome is the term that refers to the trillions of microscopic microbes that live in the digestive track, commonly known as the gut. Interestingly, these microbes outnumber your human cells by ten to one. Let me repeat that: the human body is made up of cells that are only 10% human, and 90% microbial.
The gut microbiome helps in the digestion process. As humans, we aren’t able to produce the enzymes needed for breaking down complex nutrients. But the bacteria in your gut can do this job, which is important for digestion to occur properly.
Your gut microbiome also plays an important part in metabolism, mood, cardiac health and other functions related to health. What’s more, the bacteria in your gut work together with your immune system. If you’re like most people, you probably aren’t aware that 80 percent of the immune system is found in the digestive system. Therefore, having a healthy gut can lead to good health.
When your microbiome is unbalanced, you can get sick. One of the primary jobs of the microbiome is supplying those essential vitamins needed to fight pathogens as well as modulate metabolism and weight. The microbiome affects how your immune system will react to vaccines as they can be less effective when you have unhealthy gut bacteria. On the other hand, when you have a healthy and diverse gut microbiome, there’s no gut inflammation and leakiness. As a result your immune system is able to favourably respond to vaccines.
Why Many People Today Have an Unbalanced Microbiome
We live in a time when having an unbalanced microbiome is more common than in former eras. This is mainly due to poor diets, such as eating foods containing a lot of sugar and processed foods. It’s also because of taking too many antibiotics, antacids and eating conventionally raised dairy and meat products that are full of hormones. As a result, our gut health has been affected.
Also, more and more babies are being formula fed, rather than on breast milk. This can be another factor linked with an unbalanced microbiome as sometimes babies on formula diets can develop allergies and other problems, such as anxiety, depression and autoimmunity.
The Importance of Eating Healthy Foods
One of the main ways to keep your microbiome balanced and healthy is by eating the right foods. For example, don’t consume highly processed foods that have a large amount of added sugars, high fructose corn syrup and fats. Foods loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup are harmful for your health, mainly because they promote the growth of yeast in your biome.
When yeast in your gut grows out of control, healthy bacteria don’t have room to develop there. One way to resolve this problem is by adding a garlic supplement or cloves of garlic to your diet as garlic can get rid of a yeast overgrowth.
Instead of getting bad carbohydrates from highly processed foods, eat good carbs found in fresh vegetables and low-sugar fruits. When you consume a large amount of green, leafy veggies, such as kale, spinach and cabbage, you’re nourishing your gut with diverse, healthy bacteria.
Eat fermented foods that are rich in probiotics. These are live bacteria that supply your gut with healthy bacteria so that your microbiomeis more balanced. A few excellent fermented foods that contain a large amount of probiotics include those, such as pickles, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha. Yogurt is also beneficial, provided it’s natural and not processed.
Other Considerations and Warnings
- Have your meals balanced with protein and healthy fats.
- Include a high-quality probiotic supplement in your diet.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol beverages.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Exercise regularly.
- Don’t eat dinner late at night or too close to when you go to bed.
- Only take antibiotics when they’re needed, remembering that antibiotics are useless for viruses, such as colds or influenza.
For more information on how you can improve your health, visit Dr. Allie’s Vitality Clinics where we focus on helping busy perimenopausal and menopausal women in their 30s, 40s and 50s balance their hormones. Please contact us.