7 Ways to Optimize Your Gut Microbiome, Backed by Research

Nov 9, 2022 | Gut Health

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that all disease begins in the gut. And you probably want to optimize your health by optimizing your gut microbiome.

Me, too!

Over the years, I’ve read the latest science, listened to experts, and compiled the best and easiest approaches to support microbial diversity. 

And I’d love to share it with you!

Without further ado, here are the top tips to support microbial diversity. And help optimize health.

Eat 30 types of plants per week

Surprising results from the American Gut Project showed the number of unique plant species consumed is associated with higher microbial diversity than being a vegan or vegetarian. Turns out you can be vegan and eat the same 10 plants every day. Variety is king! Aim for 30 unique, whole plants per week for the biggest impact.

Include fermented foods

Exciting new research from the lab of Dr. Justin Sonnenburg revealed that eating fermented food is associated with higher microbial diversity than eating only un-cultured plants. So get your sour funk on and try out sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, yogurt, and kefir!

Want to learn more? Check out the 10 Must-Try Fermented Foods for a Healthier Gut.

Take probiotics specific to the outcome you desire

Dive deeper than specific species. I’m talking about the exact strain studied—including the dose! More is not always better. The best bet is to take the amount shown to be helpful in the study. Need help finding the perfect probiotic for you? Schedule a free consultation with Adair!

Limit sugar intake

Seriously. Excess sugar feeds the “bad” bacteria. Which then throws off the delicate balance in your gut. Without going into the science, this 2022 study showed that “eliminating sugar from high-fat diets protected mice from obesity and metabolic syndrome.” The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming less than 10% of your calories from added sugars. If possible, aim for half of that: less than 25 g/day.

Cultivate calm.

According to vagus nerve expert Dr. Navaz Habib, we should be in rest-and-digest-and-recover 80% of the time. Instead, most of us are stuck in fight-or-flight. Everyone knows stress is bad for health. This 2019 study provides evidence stress is particularly bad for your gut microbiome. There’s a whole section called “Stress and depression facilitate dysbiosis and a leaky gut.”

Want a quick and easy win? Check out how Deep Breathing Improves Digestion.

Try intermittent fasting

There are many types of intermittent fasting. But I’m talking about time restricted eating. Specifically, waiting 12-16 hours between dinner and breakfast the next morning. Not only does this give your digestive system a break from the constant need to digest your food but, according to this August 2022 article, it also “promoted evenness within the bacterial population at the species level,” including increasing anti-inflammatory bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and decreasing pathogenic bacteria.

Get adequate sleep

Magical things happen while you are sleeping. Repair enzymes rebuild muscles damaged during exercise. “Housekeepers” clean out your brain. And subtle shifts occur in the microbiome as well. This 2019 study found that getting enough sleep is correlated with microbial richness. And it goes both ways. Growing evidence suggests that the gut microbiome can influence sleep quality. In other words, when you fix your gut imbalances, it usually helps you sleep better, too!

Want to learn more?

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