Feed Your Microbiome

Posted by Healthful Elements Staff

This post is an installment in our 52 Health Hinges series. Remember, “Small hinges swing big doors.”

Have you heard the saying, “To the world you are one person, but to one person, you are their world”? I love it; it makes me think about my guys, but strangely, it also makes me think of bacteria!

Our bodies are host to 1-3 pounds of various microbiomes in your digestive tract, skin, vagina, and mouth. Having a healthy balance of good bacteria in our bodies helps prevent chronic and degenerative diseases, improves digestion, possesses anti-cancer and immune boosting properties, and controls inflammation.

Watch this TED talk where scientist and microbiome enthusiast Rob Knight explains why “the microbes that you carry around with you might be more important than every single gene you carry around in your genome.”

When your body lacks diversity in friendly gut flora, you become much more vulnerable to disease and illness. This includes manifestations of digestive disorders, of course, but an off-balance gut microbiome can also manifest itself via skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, or hives, brain/mental symptoms, and more.

You are what you eat, and so are the bacteria that live in your gut. (Source)

Keeping your good guy population intact comes down to knowing what to take away and what to add.

The top three things to avoid are:

  1. Antibiotics. Sometimes antibiotics are necessary and life-saving. But studies show that they’re over-prescribed. As shown in Rob Knight’s TED talk mentioned above, your gut microbiome is impacted every time you take antibiotics. Please also consider antibiotics that might be in your food. Listen to this terrifying yet informative TED talk on antibiotic resistance by Maryn McKenna.
  2. Birth control pills. The pill changes the pH in the gut, disrupting our microbes.
  3. Sugar and processed foods. These “foods” change our pH and deplete the body of nutrients.

The top three things to add to your diet and lifestyle are:

  1. Eating fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and kefir, that are full of good bacteria. 
  2. Taking a probiotic supplement. Quality and strain diversity is important. 
  3. Managing your stress. Yep – stress impacts your gut health, too. Get on it.

For anything that ails you, consider that the health of your gut may be one of the keys to feeling better.

Go forth and feed your microbiome well!

Posted by Healthful Elements Staff


About the fermented foods, I've tried these and I just can't tolerate them. Could be because I'm allergic to sulfites (lots of fermented foods use vinegar, and vinegar has sulfites) or molds and yeast. Just thought I'd mention that since I have friends who've had similar issues but didn't realize that fermented foods were making them feel worse instead of better.

Fermented foods that are being discused about are the ones that are made only with salt and water. Another fact to consider is if you have SIBO or leaky gut or other digestive issue - in those cases you might be unable to tolerate fermented foods. 

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