The gut microbiome consists of millions of microbes in your gut. Microbes are living organisms that are found everywhere in nature. They consist of viruses, fungi, yeast, and bacteria. The microbes that reside in our gut are called the gut microbiome. 
It might sound gross, but the truth is that we need our microbiome to live.
The population of the microbiome in our gut weighs about 200 g and contains more genes than all the cells in our body.
We build our microbiome from the time we are young. Our gut microbiome is affected by the types of food we eat. It can also be affected by medications we ingest, such as antibiotics, pain relievers, proton pump inhibitors, steroids, to name a few. 

Functions of the gut microbiome

The gut microbiome has a wide variety of functions in the body, such as:
  • It helps our brain function well.
  • It helps to balance our mood.
  • It plays a role in producing several vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, folate, biotin, and pantothenic acid.
  • It helps to regulate bowel movement.
  • It protects against some forms of cancer.
Here are three things to know about your gut microbiome to keep you and it healthy.

A healthy balance of good and bad bacteria is vital

There is always a balance between good bacteria and harmful bacteria in the gut. If there are too many harmful bacteria in the gut, this can cause a condition called dysbiosis. Dysbiosis can cause serious health conditions such as:

What you eat affects the health of your microbiome

You’ve heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” The microbiome is affected by how and what we eat.
Eating healthy nutrient-dense foods rather than processed high-sugar foods helps to grow a more healthy microbiome. 

Probiotics can help improve your microbiome

Probiotics are bacteria, yeast, and fungi in our gut that are good for the function of our body. The most common probiotics in the gut are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. 
We can get probiotics from our food, especially fermented foods.
Examples of probiotic foods include
  • kefir
  • yogurt (no added sugar, active cultures) 
  • sour cream
  • fermented vegetables 
  • kimchi
  • kombucha 
  • Miso
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Raw, pickled vegetables 
If you haven’t been eating fermented foods previously, it’s a good idea to introduce them slowly into your diet.
There may also be situations when your functional medicine doctor may recommend taking probiotics as supplements.
Some Probiotic strains could help improve mental and cognitive health, cardiovascular health, immune health. They may also help with cancer prevention. If you have any of these conditions, it is a good idea to work with a functional medicine doctor to create a customized wellness plan for you rather than just picking a random bottle of probiotics and hoping it works.

Prebiotics and the gut microbiome

Fiber-rich foods can also improve the gut’s health with probiotics. These fiber-rich foods are called Prebiotics.
When probiotics feed on prebiotics they produce a chemical compound called butyric acid (butyrate).
Butyrate acidifies the gut making it harder for harmful bacteria to survive. It is also the preferred fuel for the cells that line the colon.
Examples of Prebiotic Foods include
  • Apple
  • Asparagus
  • Banana
  • Burdock
  • Chicory
  • Flaxseed
  • Dandelion greens
  • Honey
  • Garlic
  • Jicama
  • Leek
  • Legumes
  • Onion
  • Peas
  • Yucon
  • Whole grains
  • Jerusalem artichoke 
  • Kanjac 
(source IFM toolkit)
Eating a blend of prebiotic and probiotic foods helps maintain a healthy gut. 

Other ways you can help to maintain a healthy microbiome 

  • Stay well hydrated.
  • Reduce exposure to environmental toxins.
  • Manage stress.
  • Avoid excess alcohol.
  • Avoid indiscriminate use of antibiotics.


Could some symptoms you’ve been experiencing be possibly related to your gut health? Maybe it’s time to find out how working with a functional medicine doctor like myself could help transform your health. Click on this link to schedule a FREE no-obligation 30-minute discovery call.




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