The Microbiome, or, The Beauty of Poo

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Yep, we’re going there.

After six months of gaining your trust with pleasingly feminine articles about love potions, meditation, baby animals, and vegan cookies, we’ve decided it’s time to get gritty. But do stick* around – there’s so much to learn about this unloved topic!

Did you know that the health of your gut flora (a.k.a. the microbiome), in addition to creating good poo, can determine:

  • Your weight
  • Your energy levels
  • And – would you believe it? – your happiness

Most people, because of stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise, have digestive issues, experiencing the delights of bloating, gas, indigestion, and all that jazz on a daily basis. These problems are so common that we’ve come to accept them as normal. There is a kind of acceptation around digestive discomfart – we assume that it’s just a fact of life.

But digestive perfection does exist, and it’s totally something to go for.

I’ve been a longtime sufferer of chronic digestive issues (I even wondered if I had IBS). But recently, I’ve seen major improvements in that area. And my new-found digestive ease makes me want to sing joyously like a baby bird perched on a newly blossoming branch.

palais royal
Spring sunshine, Palais Royal…and digestive ease = joy

The Microbiome – What Is It and Why Should I Care?

The microbiome is the 100-trillion-strong colony of bacteria living inside your body and on your skin. A whopping 95% of it resides in your gut – making up what we generally refer to as our flora. Maintaining a balanced microbiome is crucial, because healthy gut flora means a healthy immune system. Indeed, many of our modern ills, such as allergies, asthma, obestity, autism and autoimmune disease, can be the result of an unhappy microbiome.

The gut has also been nicknamed the ‘second brain’ because, believe it or not, our gut activity is linked to brain function and emotions. Feeling down? 95% of serotonin (the happy chemical) is produced in your gut, but it can only be produced to proper levels if your gut is in good working order. On top of that, an unbalanced microbiome can provoke feelings of anxiety. So you really want to make sure your microbiome is a happy chappy.

When your microbiome is in tip-top shape you’ll enjoy the benefits of:

  • Better absorption of nutrients from your food, so more energy
  • Being regular
  • A clearer mind
  • Better skin – strange, but true

Recently, we’ve been digging into this enlightening book (also available in English) on the gut:

12339480_548915235270939_8110366478612914911_oBest consumed with oaty goodness

It’s written by a vivacious German microbiologist (that’s right) who’s passionate about all things gut-related. It’s much more fascinating and entertaining than it sounds, and has been at the top of bestseller lists for months, making the microbiome a totally acceptable, and even desirable, cocktail party conversation topic.

So What Causes Digestive Upset?

Many factors come into play in gut health. These are the major culprits of digestive problems:

  • Chronic stress
  • Use of antibiotics and other medications
  • A diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
  • Dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils

Healing The Gut – A Step-by-Step Guide

Because you want to absorb every last drop of powerful nutrition in those superfood green smoothies, here are a few methods for bringing your gut flora into balance:

Probiotics

ohhira

Probiotics flood your gut with good bacteria, so they’ll provide you with a helping hand to bring things back in order. I love Dr Ohhira’s probiotics, and Bioprotus by Carrare. It’s a good idea to do a round of probiotics at least once a year.

And always, always be sure to use probiotics before and after taking any antibiotics your over-zealous doctor might prescribe you. Antibiotics are the gut’s worst enemy, and it can take ages to naturally build digestive health back up after your gut gets nuked by the antibios. Probiotics will give your flagging flora a much needed leg-up in this situation.

You can also find probiotics in fermented foods, such as kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and miso. These things are all mega tasty, even though they sound weird!

Bin The White Stuff

sarah w

As a recovering sugar addict, I am well aware of how hard this is. But too much sugar is the quickest route to an inflamed and irritable digestive system, because sugar feeds bad bacteria and provokes yeast overgrowth, also known as candida. So you really want to rein it in.

Here are three things I do every day to reduce sugar cravings:

  • Use a tongue scraper every morning. With daily use, you’ll gradually cleanse your palate, making your tastebuds more sensitive and refined. Warning – Kinder, or any other mainstream chocolate will end up being inedible to you… For 15% off our favourite tongue scrapers, visit Amano, and enter the code ‘bonnesante2016’ at checkout.
  • Drink a litre of filtered water upon rising every morning. This is great for cleaning your system out and jump starting your morning. You will feel lighter and will be more inclined to make good food choices when you get things moving first thing.
  • Replace white sugar with healthier, low-GI sugars, such as coconut flour sugar, rice malt syrup or stevia.

You could even sign up for an online program like I Quit Sugar, for accountability and a host of sugar-free recipes, tips and tricks.

Get Dirty

Don’t be all OCD about scrubbing the earthy bits off your organic carrots and mushrooms – dirt is actually good for you, and having a little bit on your veggies will help your digestive flora get back on track. If you don’t believe me, take it from Dr. Axe.

Eat-dirt

Also, think about ceasing the use of hand sanitisers/anti-bacterial wipes. They are your gut’s worst enemy, because they attack all bacteria, good and bad. Even if you’re just using the product on your hands, it will sneakily find its way into your innards and make free with your good bacteria.

One last thing – your psychological and emotional state can have a major effect on digestion. We tend to store a lot of old wounds, sadness, stress and worry in the tummy area. Working on releasing the blocked energy, through massage, yoga, tai chi, EFT, or osteopathy (Amelie Tranchant is my osteopath – she’s an angel) can be powerful. Also, be aware of how you feel when you eat. Try your best to create as calm an environment as possible at mealtimes, and make a conscious effort to slow down. This really makes all the difference.

I hope this ‘poost’ serves you – have any tips and tricks for digestive bliss? Do share in the comments be-loo. 😉

*This reminds me of my favourite joke of all time:

Q. What’s brown and sticky?
A. A stick.

(It had me in stitches at 7 yrs old. I’m still laughing.)

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16 April, 2016 | facebook | tweet | pin

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