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September 22, 2021 4 min read
A healthy lifestyle can make all the difference for your overall quality of life. It’s important to take great care of both your body and your mind with a healthy diet that supports your digestive and immune systems. As the old saying goes, you are what you eat; and what you eat dictates how you feel.
The foods you eat also influence the organisms that live within your body. There are millions of cells, fungi, and bacteria that all help support your body’s immune system so that you can maintain an active lifestyle each and every day.‡ You can help these organisms perform their jobs to support your body by understanding a little more about how your body works.
One of the most important but often overlooked parts of your body is the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is located in a pocket of your large intestine known as the cecum. It contains thousands of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that all help influence how your body digests foods and other compounds that make their way into your body.‡
Your gut microbiome evolves as you grow and, more importantly, learns to support your immune system based on the types of foods you eat.‡ As you diversify the types of foods, proteins, vitamins, and minerals that enter your body, your gut microbiome learns how to become more effective at digesting these compounds and influence your overall quality of health.‡
A healthy gut microbiome allows both your body and your mind to function more effectively, promoting overall health and wellbeing.‡A healthy gut microbiome can even influence your sleeping habits as more effective digestion has less effect on your body while you try to rest. This can help you fall asleep and maintain restful sleep more easily.‡
Additionally, a healthy gut microbiome can also influence how you respond or adapt to stressful situations.‡ Stress has a significant effect on the gut. When the gut feels overwhelmed, it can send signals throughout your body that influence how you respond to stress.‡ A healthy gut microbiome supports the body in positive responses to stress.‡
One of the ways that the gut can influence your body’s response to stress is through a direct connection with the brain. There’s a link between the gut and the mind known as the gut-brain axis, which can influence your brain’s health and functionality.‡
The gut-brain axis is built upon millions of nerves that flow between the two organs within your body. Those nerves send and process signals between the gut and the brain, influencing the nervous system and the immune system during, particularly stressful times.*
Stress is a prominent cause of gastrointestinal issues that can compromise the integrity and functionality of the gut microbiome.‡ The bacteria within the gut microbiome often diversify and contract based on how your body responds to stress.‡ Healthy gut microbiome and healthy gut bacteria influence healthier responses to stressful episodes.‡
Dr. Ross Maltz, aclinician-scientist and attending gastroenterologist in the Division of Gastroenterology,Hepatology, and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s, has led studies analyzing the links between the gut microbiome and healthy responses to stress. His research indicates that the gut microbiome has a direct link to gut-related illnesses.‡
Dr. Maltz states, “Part of the microbiome is bacteria lining the GI tract. The bacteria break down food and produce many metabolites, which have the ability to communicate with the intestines and immune system, and we believe disruption of this mechanism is contributing to the inflammation seen in inflammatory bowel disease.”‡
So how do you keep the gut microbiome healthy and functional? Simple changes to your daily diet can help influence how the gut microbiome functions on a day-to-day basis. This can also help influence how the gut microbiome and metabolism function together to improve your overall quality of health.‡
Some of the best foods you can eat to support your gut microbiome are organic compounds that grow in nature.‡ These include things like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, herbs, spices, and even certain types of teas. These superfoods are very healthy for your body and for your gut microbiome, enabling you to support your immune system with a simple healthy diet.‡
Also, you can increase the amount of mushrooms or mushroom powders you consume on a regular basis. Plant-based mushrooms are excellent sources of proteins, vitamins, and adaptogens that help support your immune system.‡ By adding one spoonful of mushroom powder to a cup of coffee, tea, or hot water, you can get your daily intake of essential nutrients with no more effort than stirring powder into a small cup.‡
What are the benefits of a healthy gut microbiome? We’ve been emphasizing those points throughout the article. The most important benefits are that a healthy gut microbiome will influence your body’s response to stress, support your digestive system, and promote a healthier immune system.‡
By making small changes to your regular dietary intake, you can increase the quality of food that enters your gut and supports the functionality of microorganisms within your body.‡ As a result, you’ll feel healthier, happier, and more capable of living a higher quality of life for more consistent periods of time.‡
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