gut dysbiosis

Balance Your Gut Bacteria (At Any Age)

Last week, I shared the surprising connection between your gut and your age. I also shared the adverse affects we experience when our gut flora is compromised. This happens because the balance of good and bad bacteria is crucial to every system in your body—not just your digestive system. From weight management to stress management to thyroid function, promoting our microbiome may be the most important thing we do for our health. Of course, you’re not in this alone. I have plenty of simple tips and recipes to help you balance your gut at any age.

First, let’s understand what the gut does:

  • Affects how we store fat
  • Balances blood sugar
  • Regulates our appetite by responding to hormones 
  • Affects our ability to handle stress
  • Supports liver function
  • Assists in thyroid function and metabolism
  • Aids in digestion, nutrient assimilation and elimination 

If our guts are not running optimally, any of these functions can be disrupted. This could lead a host of minor to serious health issues, including weight gain. 

In fact, one twin mouse study found that transferred gut bacteria from lean mice into obese mice allowed them to lose weight. In other words, when your healthy bacteria are flourishing, it’s easier to lose weight and feel good in your body.

If you’ve been curious about some seemingly random systems, your gut might be the root cause. So what do you do? 

5 Ways To Balance Your Gut

  1. Improve Your Diet. Whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes can seriously improve your health. 
  2. Crowd Out Sugar. By filling your body with healthy, wholesome foods, you will naturally start to “crowd out” unsavory foods that help bad bacteria grow, such as sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  3. Introduce Ferments. I love fermented foods, and I eat them every day. Start by incorporating one ferment into your diet and increase the frequency and variety as your body adjusts. I recommend kimchi, sauerkraut and beet kvass
  4. Exercise (and Have Fun). Moving your body should be fun…and the more fun it is, the more you’ll be inclined to do it. Take a dance or yoga class, go for a jog or do some gentle stretching. Movement helps your body detox and eliminate efficiently. 
  5. Mediate Daily. A consistent meditation practice has been proven to greatly reduce stress—which we all know is one of the main contributors to gut dysbiosis. If you struggle to mediate, try closing your eyes for 3-5 minutes. Or, engage in any activity that makes you feel light and happy. 

Take one action step. We can all stand to increase our self-care and ramp up our nutrition, especially during the holiday season. Choose one of the 5 action steps from above, and then tell me about it in the comments below. 

 

A Surprising Cause of Gut Dysbiosis

We know that a high-sugar, high-stress lifestyle can lead to an imbalance in our microbial community, otherwise known as gut dysbiosis. This condition causes the good bacteria to decrease and the bad bacteria to increase. When this happens, we’re susceptible to inflammation, illness and disease… not to mention depression, anxiety and weight gain. Not fun for any of us!

While diet and stress are the primary factors, they aren’t the only ones that can lead to a gut imbalance. Another surprising cause? AGE. Aging is, of course, a biological process. However, if we don’t support our bodies throughout our lives, we’re increasingly prone to infections and illnesses the older we get. Here’s why…

Age & Gut Dysbiosis

The type of bacteria we have in our gut and the levels of bacteria in our bodies both change as we age. As we get older, we produce more E. coli (proteobacteria) and Staphylococcus (firmicute), and less Bifidobacteria (actinobacteria).

A recent study, The Healthy Gut for Aging Well, provides a few reasons for this bacterial shift: 

  • Decreased salivary function
  • Neuron degeneration 
  • Decreased gut motility

If you'd like to learn more about this study you can read the full abstract here. 

Gut dysbiosis is also more prevalent as we age, because elderly individuals are often prescribed more antibiotics than younger adults. “A study looking at 187 elderly people prescribed antibiotics found that there were alterations to their microbiota and concluded that this affects long-term health.”

So what does this all mean? Promoting a healthy gut microbiome is essential now and as you age. It’s also important to continue to replenish your body with pre and probiotics every day, and especially after a course of medication or antibiotics.  

In fact, a healthy gut balance may be the best “anti-aging” trick available. The more you populate your body with good bacteria, the younger you look and feel. Ferments and a healthy lifestyle could actually save you hundreds of dollars on makeup and eye creams! 

What else can you do to support your body as you age?

Be sure to check back next week to get tips and recipes that will positively affect your whole body—at any age!