Gut Health Unveiled: Unlocking the Secrets of the Microbiome for Optimal Well-Being

Published on June 13, 2022

By Mary Bove ND, Medical Herbalist

Mary Bove

Dr. Mary Bove is a herbal advocate, educator, and innovator holds a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine, Midwifery Certification and Diploma of Phytotherapy/Herbal Medicine. She practiced Naturopathic Family Medicine, herbal Medicine, and Midwifery for over 30 years, specializing in naturopathic pediatrics, botanical medicine, natural prenatal care and homebirth.

Once full-time faculty at Bastyr University, Dr Bove chaired the departments of Botanical Medicine and Naturopathic Midwifery. Dr Bove is the author of the Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants and co-authored Herbs for Women’s Health.

Mary has been published in many magazines, journals and collaborative books on botanical and natural medicine. She has worked as Medical Educator and in formulation research and product development for Gaia Herbs Brevard, NC, belonging to Gaia’s Scientific Advisory Board for over 35 years. Dr Bove currently consults, lectures, writes, and teaches internationally for Heartwood Institute on the topics of naturopathic medicine, botanical medicine, pediatrics, natural pregnancy and childbirth, traditional food medicine, and mind-body healing.

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.REF#1930

While the idea of parasites and viruses living in the gut may be unnerving, these are primarily symbiotic microbes, which means that they are beneficial bacteria and vital to the health of our microbiome, and therefore the human body benefits from them.*

“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 long-time member of Gaia Herbs’ Scientific Advisory Board.REF#1931

“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 are 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 the process of 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.

You may not know that maintaining the microbiome also helps support the body’s immune response.REF#1932 When the gut microbiome is not balanced, the risk of complications can increase.REF#1933

The immune system uses the gut and its mucosal lining to secrete immune complexes, so a healthy gut full of healthy bacteria is your body’s first line of defense.REF#1934

“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.

5 Ways to Maintain Microbiome and Gut Health

Keep Moving and Stay Active

Physical activity is important to a healthy gastrointestinal tract, body, and mind.

Recent studies suggest that exercise can:REF#1935

  • Support beneficial microbial species.
  • Encourage microfloral diversity.
  • Aid in the development of commensal bacteria.

To simplify, exercise has been shown to minimize the risk of obesity and modify the gut microbiota producing positive health effects.REF#1935

Even small changes can make a big difference, such as a short walk after meals, which has also been shown to help you avoid constipation and bloating.

Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Utilizing food to support the health of the GI tract and promote a healthy microbiome can help your body heal from an unhealthy gut from the inside out.

High-fiber foods such as legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans, etc.), whole grains (oats, wheat, barley, etc.), chia seeds, pears, apples, and bananas are all beneficial to our digestive well-being.REF#1936

Fermented foods have numerous health benefits and are a great source of probiotics, which are living good bacteria that can be introduced into the gut.REF#1937 

You can also supplement your diet with a probiotic supplement.

A list of some probiotic foods include:REF#1938

  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Kefir
  • Sourdough bread
  • Yogurt
  • Pickles
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha 

It is crucial, with our typical Western diet, to also intentionally include a number of prebiotic foods in your diet in order to obtain optimal gut health. 

A few examples of prebiotic foods include:REF#1939

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Chicory root
  • Flax
  • Garlic
  • Leafy Greens
  • Oatmeal
  • Rye
  • Wheat

Keep in mind that a diet high in fast food, sugar, and excessive alcohol consumption can have a detrimental effect on gut health.*

If you want a personalized diet plan to help you support your gut health, speak to a licensed dietitian.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water is not only important for overall health, but it is also 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.REF#1940

Increasing water intake also helps to keep food moving through the intestines and digestive tract and encourages healthy bowel movements.REF#1941

Reduce Feelings of Stress

There is a direct correlation between gut health and stress levels.REF#1942

To help minimize feelings of stress, consider turning to relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation.REF#1942 You can also implement exercise into your daily routine and prioritize getting a good night's sleep to help encourage feelings of relaxation.REF#1942

Exercise Regularly

When you incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine, it can help support a healthy digestive system, help your body to eliminate toxins from your gut, and help support and maintain a healthy body weight.REF#1943

Here are a few exercises that may help you support your gut health.


One of the most beneficial and well-rounded exercises for optimal health, walking is an excellent way to add exercise to your day.*

When you go for a walk, the movement can encourage your digestive system to contract, which allows food and waste to pass into your intestines.REF#1946

This process can support regular bowel movements and soothe symptoms ofgestive discomfort, such as gas and bloating in your gastrointestinal tract.*


Biking is another excellent form of exercise that can help maintain a healthy gut.*

Adding biking to your exercise regimen can also help minimize overall belly fat, which in turn, can help your digestive system function properly.REF#1947 This can support regular bowel movements, soothe gas and bloating, and help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day.*


Yoga is an amazing exercise that can encourage feelings of relaxation and support your gut health.REF#1944 You can try poses like triangle, downward dog, upward dog, boat, and child’s pose, which can help your body maintain optimal digestion.*

As stress can have a negative impact on your health, incorporating activities that can ease feelings of stress, such as yoga, can help support gut health.*


Do you normally pay attention every time you take a breath in and out? Most of us don’t — after all, it’s a process that’s normally done automatically.

Diaphragmatic breathing, or deep breathing, is a technique you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.REF#1945

Deep breathing is another technique that involves inhaling to fully expand your stomach, then exhaling to contract it. This process can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which can help relax the muscles that support your digestion and bowel movements.REF#1948

Herbal Support to Help You Trust Your Gut Again

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, artificial sweetener-free, digestive supplements to make it easier to get your gut bacteria back in balance.

Whether you're experiencing an upset stomach or looking to support your microbiome, we offer herbal formulas to help you maintain digestive and GI health, so you can trust your gut again.*

GI Feel Good

Stress can come at you from all directions, whether adapting to working from home, managing the schedules for your entire family, or trying to help your children with their school work.

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 help support your GI tract.*

It is made with a blend of Chamomile, Fennel, Spearmint, Ginger, and Lemon Balm and is a go-to in those times of occasional anxiousness.*

For optimal results, shake the product well before using it. Our suggested use for adults is 60 drops in a small amount of water three to four times daily.*

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, which are herbs traditionally used to balance the GI tract.

Microbiome Cleanse helps prepare the GI tract for prebiotics like our Microbiome Food.

For best results, adults can take one capsule two times a day in between meals. Generally, the longest you should take this remedy is six weeks, or as recommended by a healthcare professional.

Microbiome Food

With a comforting cinnamon taste, Microbiome Food is a plant-based prebiotic powder made with Acacia, Larch, Cinnamon, 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.*

This is the perfect go-to product for relief from occasional gas, bloating, and cramping.

“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.*”

Adults can take one teaspoon daily in between meals mixed in four to six oz of water. Gradually increase up to one tablespoon daily as needed.*

Triphala Fruit

Our Triphala Fruit supplement can help support healthy digestion and gently cleanse your system.* This go-to supplement includes a three-fruit blend of Amla, Belleric Myrobalan, and Chebulic Myrobalan.

We recommend that adults take one capsule twice daily between meals.

Ginger Supreme

Our Ginger Supreme contains a comforting blend of Ginger and Turmeric to help support digestive health.* This supplement can also help soothe digestive discomfort, bloating, nausea, and gas.*

Adults are recommended to take one capsule once or twice daily with a meal.

Licorice Root

One of the most popular herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine, our Licorice Root supplement can help support gastrointestinal (GI) tract health.* This convenient and easily digestible Licorice Root extract is easy to use at home, at work, or away on vacation.

We recommend that adults take 30 to 40 drops of licorice extract in a small glass of water three to four times a day between meals.

Gaia Herbs Reference Guide

Want to know more about the herbs used in Gaia Herbs supplements?

Check out our extensive Herb Reference Guide for information on potential health benefits, supplements that use certain herbs, and even what parts of the herb are used in our formulations.

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, staying active, minimizing stress, and getting enough sleep are just a few of the ways that you can support your microbiome and keep your gut healthy in order to help you live a healthier and happier life.*


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