Oh, our friendly “gut microbes.”
They are the trillions of microbes that happily live in our gut. They help us by digesting foods, making vitamins, and even protecting us from the not-so-friendly microbes that may get in there.
FUN FACT: There are more microbes inside our gut, than all of the human cells that make us. Yup, we’re more than half microbe! So, how can they NOT impact our health?
It’s a hotbed of research right now and we’re finding out more about their awesome health, and mood/stress, benefits every day.
And, while the research is just starting to figure out the many gut microbe-brain connections, it’s such a cool new topic that I thought you could check out here!
Gut Microbes And Probiotics
The microbes that live in our guts are known as our “gut microbiota”.
The microbes that we can ingest are known as “probiotics”.
“Probiotics” are live organisms that you can eat, drink, or take as a supplement. They’re what turn milk into yogurt, and cabbage into sauerkraut; and they are great for both your gut health and mental health.
Special probiotics that have mental health benefits are called “psychobiotics,” (psycho = mental health, and biotics = live). They’re live organisms that can benefit our psyche.
How To Nurture Healthy Gut Microbes - Probiotics
First, eat (and drink) probiotics.
Probiotics can be eaten in yogurt, sauerkraut (and other fermented veggies), miso, tempeh, and kimchi. You can drink them in kefir or kombucha. Be sure to choose unpasteurized ones that will be refrigerated in your local grocer.
Of course, there are a number of probiotic supplements available too. Look for one that’s refrigerated and has at least 10 billion active cultures. I also suggest you look for one that has been “third party tested,” which means someone outside the company has tested it and says it’s a quality product.
Oh, and always read the label before taking any supplements.
The probiotics with the most research are of the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus types.
How To Nurture Healthy Gut Microbes - Prebiotics
Second, consider that our resident gut microbes don’t just live inside us to help us - they get something out of the deal too.
PREbiotics are “compounds that, when fermented in the gut, produce specific changes in bacterial composition or activity”. They are your friendly gut microbes’ favourite delicacies so they’ll happily grow, and multiply.
Prebiotics are basically foods that contain fibre. Things like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Even dark chocolate (preferably with at least 70% cocoa).
Giving animals prebiotics can reduce stress hormones, and anxiety-related behaviours.
And in people, studies show that taking psychobiotics along with prebiotics can improve both the microbes in our gut, as well as our mood.
How amazing is that?
Try eating more probiotics like in yogurt, kefir, miso, kimchi, and kombucha. Consider taking probiotic supplements (making sure you read the label and follow directions).
And don’t forget their favourite foods called prebiotics. Those are in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (and even dark chocolate).
Optimize your gut for health!
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