The digestive system plays a crucial role in our immune system, mental health and metabolism. The gut has a significant impact on several areas of your health, and it all comes down to the gut microbiome.
With the current stress levels on an all-time high due to COVID-19, we are seeing a considerable rise in patients with gut issues. The human body cannot discern if the stress we are under is a real threat or just one that we are imagining. As a result, we go into the fight or flight mode, and the blood is shunted into our arms and legs, preparing to take action. Our digestion is then impaired as the blood diverts away from our GI tract. It is imperative to eat your meals in a relaxed environment and not while watching stressful programs like the news or a violent movie.
The gut is filled with many different types of bacteria. The bacteria are estimated to outnumber our normal cells by a 10:1 ratio; for every healthy cell, we have ten bacteria cells. If you were to lay these bacteria out in a row, they would circle the entire earth 2.5 times!
All this to say that your diet and lifestyle will determine the balance of the good to bad bacteria in the gut, and consequently, your health.
Here are 8 steps you can implement to reset your gut microbiome to improve your immune system and overall health
1. Remove items that weaken your gut microbiome
Antibiotics, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sugar and non-GMOs all weaken your gut microbiome. Unfortunately, antibiotics destroy your good and harmful bacteria in the gut, which can lead to many gut issues including IBS, bacteria overgrowth and infections. Think of your gut microbiome as a beautiful rainforest and antibiotics are like a wildfire that revenges the ecosystem. Artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda and Nutra-sweet, tend to encourage an overgrowth of unwanted bacteria that can lead to sugar/carb cravings, brain fog, increased risk of obesity, eating disorders, diabetes and various other diseases.
Processed foods, non-organic and GMO foods are dangerous due to the high levels of the pesticide glyphosate. Glyphosate can encourage an overgrowth of harmful bacteria & damage gut lining (causing leaky gut). Chemicals in tap water such as fluoride, chlorine and aluminium can also reduce the microbiome’s delicate balance.
2. Increase your daily fibre
Fibre acts as a prebiotic because this is your good bacteria’s preferred food source. Fibre also supports overall digestion and transit time which in turn supports detox of your colon having a positive effect on your overall health. If your fibre is too low, your stool is more likely to be stinky and sink. A healthy fibre intake creates a stool that will float. If transit time is too slow food tends to ferment and putrefy, releasing harmful toxins and feeding your bad bacteria. The goal is to feed your good bacteria and starve your harmful bacteria.
Foods high in fibre and low in sugar include chia seeds, psyllium husks, quinoa, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, avocados, berries, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, cucumbers, apples, onions, garlic, chicory and artichokes. It is best to aim for 30-35g of fibre per day so around three/four teaspoons of psyllium husks per day or three cups of green veggies and three cups of coloured fruits and veggies per day. If this is a little tricky, take one heaped teaspoon of our Rejuv Digestive Complex Powder in a glass of water, 20-30 minutes before a meal. Doing this doesn’t just feed your good bacteria, and drive a craving for healthy food, but it also balances your blood sugar levels to make you feel full. And you even lose unwanted body fat as a side-effect.
3. Cut Sugar for your Gut Microbiome
Bottom line sugars feed your bad bacteria, and fibre feeds your good bacteria. When your good bacteria is high, you crave healthy foods. When your bad bacteria is high, you crave sugar and junk foods, as this is their preferred source of food. High GI foods and sugars mainly feed Candida which exaggerates your sugar cravings and is linked to depression and brain fog. Cut the nasty sugar and use stevia or monk fruit sugar instead.
4. Try Intermittent Fasting
Fasting will take the pressure off your digestive system allowing your gut microbiome to heal. Many patients present with gut inflammation and low immunity when their good to bad bacteria ratios are out.
16/8 or 18/6 intermittent fasting works well where you swap out your breakfast for water with fresh lemon and lime and then have a green juice as a brunch and then have lunch and dinner. You can make a green juice from fresh veggies such as celery, cucumber, romaine lettuce, cucumber, parsley, cilantro, ginger, lemon & lime. Add two teaspoons of super greens powder like The Super Elixir by Welleco or the Rejuv Super Greens Powder as overfarming has weakened the vitamins and minerals we’d historically have gained from our foods.
You can also do an adjusted fast by using organic veggie juice, veggie soup or bone broth (high is L-Glutamine to heal your gut). I always recommend clients to add a vegan protein smoothie like the Welleco’s Nourishing Protein or Rejuv’s Hemp or Chocolate Rice Protein.
5. Increase Fermented Foods & Probiotics
I advise my clients to eat a fermented food each day such as organic kefir, coconut water kefir, sauerkraut or spicy kimchi. The number of good bacteria these foods provide are extensive and tend to have a significant impact on improving your microbiome. Probiotics are also very convenient in supplement form, but I always combine the pre- and probiotics as the prebiotic are not only the preferred food source of your good bacteria. If you are having many intestinal issues and severe bloating and IBS symptoms, you may have histamine intolerance and overreaction to fermented foods. Therefore it is best to start with just probiotic and anti-bacterial herbs such as oregano and rosemary until your body can tolerate the fibre and fermented foods.
6. Clear parasites
Your natural defence against pathogens, bacteria, parasites & viruses is compromised if your good bacteria is too low. Such nasties release mycotoxins as a secondary metabolite not only reducing your physical health but playing havoc on your mental health also. Many years ago, I was working with my mentors to help get one of my clients to wean off anti-depressants. Depression was a common problem in the clients family, and one could just resign to the fact that it is a somewhat genetic weakness. Instead of accepting such a fate, we went on a massive mission to ascertain the root causes of the problem. After various tests, we found three generations of 19 varieties of parasites in the gut (parasites tend to hatch over a full moon cycle, hence the three generations). Once we reset the gut, cleared out the parasites and reinoculated with pre- and probiotics, the client was able to be weaned off the medications. This is not always the case, but over my 20+ years career, I’ve seen a considerable correlation between gut health and mood.
When treating a patient for any mood disorder, the microbiome is one of my top three places to investigate. There is more serotonin produced in the gut than in the brain, and your gut lining has more than 100 million nerve cells, which is why the gut is often referred to as our second brain. We can test you for parasites, but if you already know you have them you can order the Rejuv Para Cleanse, and the Rejuv Candida Gone Capsules as fungus and candida often goes hand in hand with parasites.
7. Strengthen your mucosal barrier
A strong mucosal barrier is essential to keep the gut microbiome healthy. Most of your gut bacteria live in your mucosal barrier, so making sure it is in good condition is critical. The mucosal barrier is the barrier in the stomach made up of thick mucus secreted together with an alkaline fluid. Not only does this barrier house your good bacteria, but it also protects you from toxins, pathogens and excess stomach acids. Vindigni et al. confirms the importance of the mucosal barrier for a healthy microbiome and to support your immune system
8. Boost your good environmental bacteria
Plants, animals and soil all contain unique good bacterial microbiomes. Having regular exposure to plants and animals will improve your microbiome. Playing with pets, gardening and not washing off all the dirt of your organic fruits and veg are all beneficial.
Animals, plants, and dirt all harbour their bacterial microbiome. By coming in contact with soil, sea and animals, we acquire unique and diverse bacteria that improve the health of our microbiome. Just getting skin contact with the earth can be beneficial and gardening, even just tending to window boxes if you live in an apartment, will help. Grounding barefoot in the soil or sand will also reset all of your electrical circuits and boost your negative ions combating the positive ions of our WiFi laden worlds.
I love using plants to boost my home microbiome, and my favourite is Peace Lillies, I have them on all of our home desks (including each desk for my kids with current homeschooling) and on each of our bedside tables to oxygenate us during the day and night.
As you can see, there are lots of ways to support your gut microbiome for overall mental and physical health. There are many foods, herbs and lifestyle choices you can make to ensure a healthy internal ‘rainforest’, your microbiome. You don’t have to be perfect for it is what you do most of the time that determines your health. Be kind to yourself, keep a gratitude journal and keep your stress under control for this will also significantly impact your gut health. If you need inspiration, see our Welle Intentioned posts to inspire you to live mindfully, especially in this unusual season. Adding in whole-food daily foundational support like The Super Elixir or Rejuv Super Greens will help keep all of your 11 systems, including your digestive, functioning correctly. Eating more fibre and vegetables as well as taking Rejuv Digestive Complex Powder to reset your microbiome and change the balance of power of good bacteria, back in your favour so you can get well and stay well.