Did you know that we all have trillions of trillions of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other microbes that live inside us and on our skin? These microbes make up the microbiome and play a crucial role in the body’s day-to-day functions.In fact, the majority of the microbes live in the gut. These microbes aid in digestion and keeping the immune system healthy. However, there are factors, such as, infections, changes in diet and long-term use of antibiotics which can cause disturbances in the microbiome. When this occurs an individual may be more susceptible to diseases, including obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, eczema, celiac disease and psoriatic arthritis.

Some of the signs of an unhealthy gut are:

  • discomfort in the stomach and intestines (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain)
  • chronic fatigue
  • weight gain
  • autoimmune diseases (ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis),
  • skin conditions (eczema, acne, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis)
  • food allergies and skin allergies
  • mood disorders like depression and anxiety amd possibly depression.

So what are some ways you can rebuild a healthy gut microbiome?

  • Increase your dietary fiber.

    • Use old fashioned oats: Try overnight oatmeal or mix oats with ground chicken, onions and seasonings for a delicious alternative to meat loaf or make protein balls with oats, nut butter, protein powder, a very small amount of honey, cinnamon and cocoa powder
    • Enjoy chia seed or flax seed: Sprinkle as a topping along with fruit on Greek yogurt or in your smoothie
    • Add legumes: Try chickpeas or black beans to your salads, make split pea soup, lentil soup or vegetable soup with navy beans, enjoy hummus as a snack with your veggies or spread hummus or black beans on a whole grain tortilla with some veggies
  • Eat prebiotic food.

    • Slowly introduce raw forms of garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, seaweed, dandelion greens, and Jerusalem artichokes.
  • Increase intake of probiotics

    • yogurt, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut.
  • Exercise regularly

  • Talk to your doctor about medications which can affect your gut health.

    • These may include those medications that can have a negative effect on the gut microbiome like antibiotics and Proton pump inhibitors. Alternatively, some medications may have a positive effect on the gut microbiome, like diuretics, beta blockers and statins.

In addition, hydration plays a key role in gut microbiome support according to Candace Pumper, RD, a staff dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.