lifestyle

Understanding the Microbiome & Tips to Maintain a Healthy Gut

As research continues to evolve on our bodies and their internal systems, a new term has come to the forefront: the microbiome. Discover what the microbiome is, how it can benefit you, and what you can do to help it thrive.

What is the Microbiome?

The microbiome is a system of trillions of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites that coexist in our gut. While the idea of parasites and viruses living in the gut may be unnerving, these are mostly symbiotic microbes, which means that they are vital to the health of our microbiome and the human body benefits from them.1

“What is interesting about the microbiome is that it is similar to our fingerprints; it is unique to each individual person,” said Dr. Mary Bove, ND and member of Gaia Herbs’ Scientific Advisory Board. “The microbiome is also interconnected to our immune function, our overall wellness, and even our emotions.”

According to our Formulation Manager, Susan Hirsch, the microbiome is one of the most complex and diverse ecosystems on the planet. “We are learning more about it every day. It’s fascinating to discover that there’s trillions of organisms and together they make up 100 times more DNA than each human cell,” Hirsch said. “If you think about how much DNA and metabolic activity occurs, it’s no wonder that the microbiome is often referred to as a forgotten organ.”

Why is Gut Health Important?

Maintaining the health of the gut, or the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is most often correlated with digesting food. According to Dr. Bove, the GI tract is made up of a one-cell-thick lining, which has the ability to absorb nutrients, different types of plant compounds, and calorie-forming molecules, which all then lead to good digestion. Through the process of chewing food and producing saliva, our stomach is signaled to prepare the right enzymes and pH levels, and food moves throughout the gut at the correct times.

What you may not know is that maintaining the microbiome also helps to support the body’s immune response. The immune system uses the gut and its mucosal lining to secrete immune complexes, so a healthy gut is your body’s first line of defense. “When I think about gut health now, I think about a healthy gut and microbiome as really being the gateway to having a healthy body,” Bove said.

Tips to Maintain Microbiome and Gut Health

man jogging in nature

Keep Moving and Stay Active

Physical activity is important to a healthy gastrointestinal tract, body, and mind. Recent studies suggest that exercise can enhance the number of beneficial microbial species, enrich the microflora diversity, and improve the development of commensal bacteria. Or to simplify, exercise has been shown to modify the gut microbiota producing positive health effects.3 And even small changes can make a big difference, such as a short walk after meals, which has been shown to help avoid constipation and bloating.

Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Utilizing food to support the health of the GI tract can help your body heal from the inside out. Fiber-rich foods such as legumes, chia seeds, pears, and bananas are all beneficial to digestive well-being. Fermented foods are great sources of probiotics, which are living good bacteria that can be introduced into the gut. These foods include sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir, sourdough bread, yogurt, and kombucha.2

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water is not only important for overall health, it is essential to maintaining a healthy gut and microbiome. Drinking water throughout the day has been shown to have a positive effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as helping to balance good bacteria in the gut.Increasing water intake also helps to keep food moving through the intestines and encourages healthy elimination.

Herbal Support To Help You Trust Your Gut Again

Gaia Herbs line of digestive products

Maintaining your gut health isn’t always easy to do on your own. That's why we created our new line of vegan, plant-based digestive products to make it easier to get your gut back in balance. Whether you're experiencing a distressed stomach or looking to support your microbiome, we offer herbal formulas to help you maintain digestive and GI health, so you can your trust your gut again.*

GI Feel Good

Stress can come at you from all directions, whether it’s adapting to working from home, managing the schedules for your entire family, or trying to help your children with their studies. The stressors of daily life can leave you feeling anxious and with an upset stomach. GI Feel Good is a great-tasting formula that can be taken as needed to help calm frayed nerves and soothe occasional digestive discomfort.* It is made with a blend of Chamomile, Spearmint, Catnip, and Lemon Balm.

Microbiome Cleanse

Microbiome Cleanse helps maintain a balanced microbiome and supports the body’s natural cleansing process.* This formula combines Sweet Wormwood, Black Walnut, Peppermint, and Oregon Grape, herbs traditionally used to balance the GI tract.*. Microbiome Cleanse helps prepare the GI tract for prebiotics like our Microbiome Food.

Microbiome Food

With a comforting Cinnamon taste, Microbiome Food is a plant-based prebiotic powder made with Acacia and Larch gum, Marshmallow, and Fenugreek, to support digestive health, function, and regularity.* Prebiotics offer nutrients to the microorganisms within the microbiome so they can thrive within the GI tract. “Herbs like those found in Microbiome Food help to support the health of the mucosal lining within the gut,” Bove said. “This supports the overall function of that soft lining, which in turn helps to support the body’s overall immune response.*”

Be Good To Your Gut

Our gut plays a major role, not only in our digestive health, but in the health and well-being of our entire body. Using food and herbs to nourish your body, drinking plenty of water, and staying active are just a few ways that you can support your microbiome and keep your gut healthy to help you live a healthier, happier life.*

References:
1 The Microbiome. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/
2 What’s an Unhealthy Gut? How Gut Health Affects You. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health
3 Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects. Department of Experimental Medicine, Section of Human Physiology and Unit of Dietetic and Sport Medicine, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy. Published online 2017 Mar 5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5357536/