The microbiome is in the media spotlight currently with lots of programs giving a deeper understanding to the public about what the microbiome is. I have had many clients asking about all sorts of treatment ideas they have seen online or on the TV in the hopes to helping to look after their gut health.
This is such an important factor as the more we learn about our microbiome we know that it controls and directs our overall wellness, so that means that looking after our microbiome becomes especially important. With so many advanced treatments we sometimes overlook the fact that there are some keys things that we do everyday that impact on your microbiome.
Diet and lifestyle choices can negatively impact the health of your microbiome; resulting in a reduction in both the numbers and/or diversity of the organisms within your gut. Disruption to your internal microbial community can then create an environment where pathogenic (disease causing) organisms have the opportunity to grow and prosper. This state of imbalance is termed ‘dysbiosis’, and can lead to a plethora of negative health effects, including digestive complaints, nutrient deficiencies, or maybe a compromised immune system (which can lead to allergies and/or frequent illness) – these are all common outcomes when the microbiome becomes imbalanced.
The following are three things that negatively effect the microbiome.
Eating a low fibre diet: as your gut microbes rely on the fibre in your food for fuel, a low fibre diet leads to a reduction in the diversity of your microbiome.
Alcohol intake: the consumption of alcohol can result in dysbiotic changes in your intestinal microbiome, and also triggers gastrointestinal inflammation. If you’re consuming more than one standard drink per day, your microbiome’s probably keen for you to abstain a bit more often!
Antibiotic use: a round of antibiotics does lead to some loss of core commensal organisms (antibiotics are supposed to kill off bacteria however in this instance the good stuff goes too). This leaves the gut susceptible to microbiome imbalances and dysfunction. Due to this disruption, up to 10% of people experience gastrointestinal side effects from antibiotic use, referred to as antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD).
The great news is that eating a diet with a range of fresh produce can positively improve our microbiome.