You’ve got a microbiome! And this ever-changing system inside of you can greatly influence your health and happiness. Most of us have heard the term “gut health” recently because there’s a lot of research about it. Here, we’re answering a few questions to help you understand the basics of gut health—because inside your digestive tract (or “gut”) is your very own, very important microbiome.
What’s a gut microbiome?
There are about 100 trillion bacteria and microorganisms living in your digestive tract or “gut”. Your own collection of these (and everyone’s is different!) is called your microbiome.
The microbiome influences how the body operates so significantly that it essentially acts as an organ. It can impact aging, your immune system, and even your cognitive functioning.
Why does gut health and my microbiome matter?
Your microbiome impacts much of your health and wellness. Processes inside your gut are linked to your immune system, your central nervous system, your brain—and they can even influence your mood! Basically, the health of your gut, or gut microbiome, impacts your overall health and wellness.
Am I stuck with the microbiome I have?
Your microbiome isn’t static—it’s always changing. Among other things, your stress levels, your diet, your age, and everything you touch can influence the composition of your microbiome. By being aware of things that contribute to a healthier gut, you may be able to alter the makeup of your microbiome.
How do I keep my microbiome healthy?
Studies say that to help keep your microbiome healthy, you can increase prebiotics and probiotics.
Prebiotics are the types of fiber that serve as food for the good bacteria that live inside your gut. To add fiber to your diet, include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables at every meal.
Probiotics are good bacteria that you can find in fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, tempeh, kombucha tea, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut.
More research is required to understand who benefits from probiotics and under what circumstances, but probiotic supplements may help relieve symptoms of certain gastrointestinal conditions (irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea caused by antibiotics, traveler’s diarrhea or stomach flu). Please talk to your doctor or pharmacist about probiotic supplements.
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