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Diversifying the Microbiome

How to build and maintain a healthy microbiome for optimal wellness.

The human microbiome, a bustling community of trillions of microorganisms living in our bodies, plays a crucial role in our overall health. These tiny inhabitants, mostly bacteria, reside primarily in our gut and influence everything from digestion to immune function. As research into the microbiome deepens, it becomes clear that maintaining a healthy balance of these microorganisms is essential for well-being. In this post, we’ll explore the human microbiome and discuss practical ways to improve it.

hands in the shape of a heart over the stomach

What is a Microbiome?

The microbiome refers to the collection of all the microorganisms living in and on another living thing, even humans. This diverse community includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes, with the majority found in the gastrointestinal tract. Each person’s microbiome is unique, shaped by factors such as genetics, diet, environment, and lifestyle. So why does this matter?

Importance of a Healthy Microbiome

A balanced microbiome is vital for several reasons:

  1. Digestion and Nutrient Absorption: Beneficial gut bacteria help break down food, aiding in the absorption of essential nutrients. Any imbalance in the microbiome can affect your overall health.

  2. Immune System Support: You may have heard recently that roughly 80% of your immune system is in your gut. Well, it's true. A healthy microbiome strengthens the immune system, helping to ward off harmful pathogens. When you have an imbalance, you may find yourself sick more often or suddenly more sensitive to foods you used to enjoy.

  3. Mental Health: The gut-brain axis connects the gut and the brain, meaning a healthy gut can positively impact mental health and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  4. Chronic Disease Prevention: An imbalanced microbiome has been linked to various chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease..

Ways to Improve Your Microbiome

Improving your microbiome involves adopting lifestyle and dietary habits that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms. Here are some effective strategies:

  1. Eat a Diverse Range of Foods: A varied diet rich in different types of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes provides a broad spectrum of nutrients that nourish different types of beneficial bacteria.

  2. Incorporate Fermented Foods: Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha contain live probiotics that can introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut.

  3. Consume Prebiotics: Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that feed beneficial gut bacteria. Foods high in prebiotics include garlic, onions, bananas, asparagus, and leeks.

  4. Limit Antibiotics: While antibiotics can be necessary for treating bacterial infections, they also kill beneficial bacteria. Use antibiotics only when prescribed by a healthcare professional and consider probiotics to help restore your microbiome afterward.

  5. Avoid Highly Processed Foods: Processed foods often contain additives and artificial ingredients that can disrupt the gut microbiome. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods for better gut health. “It’s more important to understand the imbalances in your body’s basic systems and restore balance, rather than name the disease and match the pill to the ill.” — Mark Hyman, M.D.

  6. Exercise Regularly: Physical activity can positively influence the composition and diversity of the gut microbiome. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. It doesn't have to be anything crazy, just a 30 minute walk is a good start.

  7. Get Enough Sleep: Quality sleep is essential for overall health, including gut health. Poor sleep can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, so strive for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. An easy way to improve sleep is to limit exposure to screens 2-3 hours before bed.

  8. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact gut health. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or stretching. Or book an appointment with your local NET practitioner! wink, wink “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” — Marcus Aurelius

The human microbiome is a complex and dynamic ecosystem that significantly impacts our health. By making conscious lifestyle and dietary choices, we can nurture our microbiome and enjoy the benefits of improved digestion, stronger immunity, better mental health, and reduced risk of chronic diseases. Start incorporating these habits today to support a healthy and balanced microbiome. Book an appointment to discuss a personalized nutrition plan or to experience amazing stress reduction with NET.


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