Hippocrates stated more than 2000 years ago that all disease begins in the gut. You have 10 times as many microbial cells in your body as regular cells – and your gut microbiome contains up to 100 times as many genes as the genetic pool inside human cells. Put another way – our gut houses about 100 trillion microbes, including about 600 different species of bacteria, several dozen types of yeast or fungi, and an unknown number of viruses, which we collectively call your gut microbiome.
Among its many roles, healthy gut flora contributes to the production of essential amino acids, neurotransmitters like your feel-good hormone serotonin, and vitamins like K and B12. When your gut is out of balance it’s called dysbiosis. This means your ‘bad’ bugs take over and throw an unwelcome party in your gut. These microbiome imbalances cause numerous diseases, including inflammatory bowel diseases, multiple sclerosis, diabetes (type 1 and 2), allergies, asthma, autism and cancer.
Everyone always has some bad bugs in their gut, but when too many overpower the good ones, they create these problems and more. Numerous factors contribute to gut imbalances, including bad diet, chronic stress, constipation, and environmental toxins.
How do you know you have too many bad gut bugs? People who have dysbiosis suffer from issues like recurrent diarrhoea, constipation, gas, bloating, and that ‘full’ feeling after meals. Some people may notice skin conditions like rashes, hives, or numbness in your hands and feet or joint pain.
What you can do to create happy and healthy gut bugs:
1. Nourish your body with healthy foods
Eat real whole, nutrient rich foods, and also fermented and cultured foods. They support the growth of your ‘good bacteria’. Aim to eat five to eight serves of vegetables a day and a colourful variety of foods.
2. Manage stress
You can’t eliminate stress entirely, but you can certainly manage it with strategies like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or even walking your dog around the park.
3. Sleep well
Sleep patterns can adversely affect your microbiome. Keep a consistent sleep schedule and get at least seven hours sleep hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep every night.
4. Exercise regularly
It’s important to move your body regularly to enhance the number of beneficial microbial species, enrich the microflora diversity, and improve the development of good bacteria.
5. Use the right probiotic
One supplement that is always helpful is a quality probiotic. Even if you eat plenty of fermented and prebiotic rich foods, a probiotic supplement can deliver billions of these healthy bugs to where they are needed in order to maintain good gut balance.