Balancing Your Flora Written by Hillary Bennetts, Certified Holistic Nutritionist Website Instagram We know that gut health influences the health of just about every system in your body. From your brain function to your skin’s appearance, from how well your immune system works to how your body stores fat, your microbiome is at the root 🌱WEED, SEED, FEED & PROTECT🌱 When you want the best health, you need the best products. I believe PLEXUS is making them! With the Probio 5 and…
Weed Seed And Feed Gut Health
Are you gardening this year? Do you love seeing your plants grow healthy and strong? If you are a gardener, you know there are certain things plants need to thrive. Some of the first steps are weeding, seeding, and feeding.
It is necessary to get the undesirable plants out of the way by weeding so that the seeds you want to grow don’t get choked out. Then the desirable seed can be planted. Once planted, these desirable plants need to be fed so they can grow.
The principles of gardening can actually apply to the complex habitat within our gut. To have good gut health, we must get the weeds (bad bacteria) in check. To do this we need the good seeds (healthy bacteria) to take root. And finally, we need to feed this good bacteria (prebiotics).
Let’s look at how we can use these principles to cultivate a healthy gut, and learn why it is so important for our overall health.
Why Gut Health Matters
Have you ever considered how your gut health impacts your overall health? Well, since seventy percent of your immune system resides in the gut, it is imperative that it is healthy. There is also a strong connection between our gut and our skin, our gut and our brain, and our gut and our hormones.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “The health of the 100 trillion bugs in your gut is one of the biggest things that impacts your health.” When the healthy gut bacteria is out of balance with the bad gut bacteria, we are set up for trouble.
In fact, Dr. Hyman explains that, many “diseases are affected by the health of your gut flora – including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, allergic diseases like asthma and eczema and even depression, ADD and autism!”
How the Gut Gets Damaged
When your gut lining breaks down you develop ‘leaky gut.’ This can be caused by using antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, or excessive alcohol use. But it can also be affected by stress, a diet of processed foods, or even food sensitivities – foods that are generally considered “healthy,” but simply aren’t working for your body.
Once you develop a leaky gut, your immune system must deal with the food particles, bacteria, and microbes that leak into the body through the compromised gut barrier that would normally keep them from gaining access. This creates havoc in your system and triggers an immune response – which can lead to an autoimmune response in which your immune system attacks your own body (Think Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriasis, Chron’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis just to name a few.)
Ways to Support Gut Health
In order to heal our gut, we need to bring the good and the bad bacteria into balance.
- “Weeding” out the bad bacteria – This can be done through reducing and eliminating excess sugar, alcohol, and processed foods from the diet. In some cases it is important to reduce the amount of bad bacteria through the use of herbs or prescription medicine.
- “Seeding” Probiotics – Dr. Hyman explains that “probiotics can improve the health of your gut significantly… because probiotics help to populate your gut with good bacteria.”
Eating fermented foods that contain probiotics – like kimchi, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, and yogurt – can increase the amount of good bacteria in your system. However, most people would benefit from a quality probiotic supplement as well.
- “Feeding” the good bacteria – In addition to probiotics, it is important to have prebiotics. Dr. Hyman explains that “prebiotics are a form of soluble fiber that help feed the good bugs in your gut.”
This is because many fruits and vegetables contain fiber and resistant starch that your body can’t digest. These indigestible plant fibers, or prebiotics, become food for the healthy bacteria and other microbes. Common prebiotics include onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, asparagus, leeks, carrots, bananas, apples, and almonds. Aim for a variety of colors of veggies every day to adequately feed the variety of “good” bacteria.
What to Look for in a Probiotic
The probiotic market can be really confusing. It seems like there are hundreds if not thousands of options! How do you decide which to choose?
In his book Healthy Gut, Healthy You, Dr. Michael Ruscio explains the 3 main categories of Probiotics. These include:
- Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium blends
- Saccharomyces Boulardii
- Soil-Based Probiotics using various Bacillus species.
I recommend choosing one probiotic from each of these categories, and taking them simultaneously for at least 3-4 weeks. Want to learn more about why I make this recommendation? I LOVE this probiotic starter guide by the aforementioned author Dr. Michael Ruscio.
What Brand to Use
Quality really matters when it comes to probiotics. In addition to not containing what they claim, some probiotics actually have been found to contain unacceptable microorganisms. I never recommend buying supplements on Amazon as Amazon itself admits that they can’t guarantee that what is advertised is what you will receive.
The brands that I recommend go through external audits to ensure that the product contains what is on the label while not containing unacceptable organisms, or common allergens such as gluten, dairy, and soy.
There is no one “perfect” brand to use. The most expensive one is not necessarily best, but it is important to notice if a probiotic is much cheaper than other brands on the market. Really cheap probiotics may not have the best quality control practices and likely aren’t independently tested.
If you want to learn what my favorite brands are in each of the 3 categories, feel free to ask me at your next appointment.
As always, I’m available to discuss your gut health or your use of probiotics. Just give me a call, and we’ll set up an appointment where we can discuss it!
THE 3 ESSENTIAL STEPS TO MAINTAINING A THRIVING MICROBIOME
We know that gut health influences the health of just about every system in your body. From your brain function to your skin’s appearance, from how well your immune system works to how your body stores fat, your microbiome is at the root of it all.
Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates made the statement that “all disease begins in the gut,” but it wasn’t until recent years that we started paying attention. So what can we do to maintain a thriving microbiome? Here are three essential steps: weed, seed, and feed.
Step 1: Weed
The first step to support gut health is to remove, or “weed out,” the foods that contribute to gut inflammation and imbalance. In other words: cut the crap.
The “Standard American Diet” is packed with processed, inflammatory foods like refined carbohydrates, excess sugar, and industrial seed oils. Even if you seek out better-for-you options, the reality is, most processed food contains inflammatory ingredients and lacks gut supporting nutrients like soluble and insoluble fiber.
So what can you do? Transition to a diet based on healthy, whole, nutrient-dense foods. You may also take weeding a step further by working with a practitioner to run a food sensitivity test or elimination diet. You may find that certain foods (even foods you may otherwise view as healthy, like eggs) are irritating and inflaming your gut. By identifying such foods, you can remove them from your diet for a period of time to allow your gut to heal.
Step 2: Seed
The second step to support gut health is to seed the gut with good bacteria.
You constantly have both good and bad bacteria in your body. The bad bacteria can quickly overrun the good if left unmanaged, so the key is to keep the balance of good bacteria greater than the bad. You can do this by adding good bacteria to your gut, which can actually help fight off the bad and restore a healthy balance. Probiotic foods and supplements are a way to add good bacteria to your body.
So what can you do? Incorporate fermented foods into your diet. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics and include foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir. You can also supplement with a probiotic. Consult with your provider on specific strains if you have a known gut issue (like SIBO, leaky gut, histamine intolerance, IBD, or IBS).
Step 3: Feed
The third step is to feed the good bacteria in the gut with prebiotics. Just like us, bacteria need to eat specific food to survive and thrive.
So what can you do? Increase your intake of fermentable fibers. These are found in foods like unripe (green) bananas, plantains, artichoke, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, and dandelion greens.
Taking care of your microbiome can have a broad range of benefits. As every microbiome is different, every body will respond differently to weeding, seeding, and feeding. However, incorporating these steps can improve allergies, brain function, skin health, immunity, digestion, and bone health. In addition, it can reduce the risk of autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
It might sound miraculous, but that’s just how powerful a thriving microbiome can be. Try these three simple steps and see what benefits you notice!
Hillary Bennetts is a nutritionist and business consultant focusing on prenatal and postpartum health. In addition to nutrition consulting she provides business consulting and content creation for companies in the health and wellness industry. Hillary spent almost a decade in corporate consulting before shifting gears to combine her lifelong passion for health and wellness with her business background and nutrition education.
Hillary holds a Bachelors in Economics from Washington and Jefferson College, an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and is certified as a Holistic Nutritionist through Bauman College. She lives in Colorado with her husband and toddler son.
When you want the best health, you need the best products. I believe PLEXUS is making them!
With the Probio 5 and Biocleanse you are WEEDING out the bad yeast and other negative toxins and harmful microbiomes in the digestive system.
New VitalBiome comes in and seeds the gut with probiotics to rebalance the good gut microbiomes.
Slim is like a superfood to help that good microbiome flourish. It’s like the fertilizer for your gut and more!
The XFactor Plus is the gut/health protector. The polyphenols in the Xfactor help protect the gut from harmful compounds that can occur in the gut.
Gut health is vital for your overall health and well-being! Plexus is breaking new ground to give you the best possible health!