“My what?” you may be asking.
The microbiome is the vast collection of trillions of bacteria in your digestive system that work together to maintain health. Your microbiome begins forming at birth and builds as you interact with the world around you. In fact, you have more bacterial cells in our body than you do human cells – 10 times more. Research is now telling us that your microbiome and your genetics are what determine the health of your body.
The problem is that the standard American diet, the daily stress we experience and environmental toxins we encounter all impact the microbiome negatively. I work daily with clients seeking to relieve their digestive discomforts, body aches and pains caused by a poorly functioning microbiome.
And the first place we start – no, it’s not the weight scale – it’s the microbiome.
You can protect and support your microbiome using an anti-inflammatory meal plan.
The microbiome is a highly researched area right now, yet there are still a lot of things we don’t know about it. What we do know is that keeping the bacteria in your gut thriving and healthy will help you maintain a healthy body, feel your best and have fewer annoying symptoms, including aches and pains. While there’s no single source of food or supplement that will supply all the bacterium you need for optimal health, the food you eat does affect your microbiome positively or negatively.
One of the most impactful ways to strengthen your microbiome and immune system is to eliminate inflammatory foods. I know, I sound like broken record, but foods that cause inflammation in your body weaken the microbiome’s healthy bacteria and affect your overall health.
Foods to reduce or eliminate from your diet all together are:
Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup that increase inflammation and also feed the “bad” bacteria in your microbiome. Trans fats (the unhealthiest fats you can eat) are linked to high levels of inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein. In fact, in one study, CRP levels were 78% higher among women who reported the highest trans-fat intake in their diet. You can ask your doctor to measure your CRP if you are curious. Vegetable and seed oils, such as canola oil, corn oil and soybean oil, contain Omega 6 fats, which are known to increase inflammation in the body. Refined flour products are low in fiber, which feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut. Fiber also allows you to feel more full and control your blood sugar.Finally, be careful with processed and smoked meats such as sausage, bacon, ham and beef jerky. AGEs – Advanced glycation end products – are harmful compounds that accumulate naturally in meats that are cooked at high temperatures. They’ve been shown to be harmful to your microbiome and to also have been shown to have an association to colon cancer.The overriding rule in nutrition is to listen to your body. If you have unmanageable digestive pain and discomfort, headaches, migraines, joint pain or autoimmune conditions, it’s time to start listening to these symptoms and taking action. By identifying the foods that are disagreeing with your body, you can make small changes to your nutrition. These simple changes can provide support to your microbiome and help restore health and balance to the organs and tissues of the digestive tract. Your body wants to heal, and when it’s supported, it’s amazing what it can do.
Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield and offers virtual-coaching options. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.