Let’s Talk Microbiome!
Jennifer McCabe, RD, LD, CLC--Pediatric dietitian with Eat To Grow, Inc.--Personal Trainor and Manager for Chatham Snap Fitness--Wellness Advocate and Sr. Ruby Ambassador for Plexus Worldwide.
Billions of bacteria live in our gut. The gut microbiota has the largest numbers of bacteria and species of bacteria in comparison with the other areas of the body. We strive for a balance of good and bad bacteria so that our gut can send correct signals to the rest of our organs. Our gut is our ‘second brain’; it houses 70% of our immunity, 80-90% of serotonin and melatonin, helps in the regulation of hormones, and facilitates nutrient absorption, to name a few of its roles. Imbalance of good and bad bacteria causes dysbiosis, which is associated with a multitude of autoimmune issues.
Our gut microbiome is also one of the primary deciding factors in our regularity. Those of us familiar with irregularity in stooling patterns, chronic yeast infections, sleep disturbances, mood dysregulation, and chronic fatigue are quite familiar with the discomforts of an unhealthy microbiome.
A few causes of bad bacteria and yeast overgrowth include many of the luxuries in our modern world; antibiotics, stress, processed foods, high sugar and simple carbohydrates, smoke exposure, alcohol, and of course, pesticides. Those of us consuming an organic, clean diet, might believe that’s all it will take to keep healthy microbiome, however, even our soil can no longer provide all the beneficial nutrients it once provided 30 years ago. We all need help to promote healthy microbiome.
So where do we start?
Model for our kids. Choose clean.
Plan ahead and use a crock pot rather than running through fast food.
Let’s talk for a minute about what to feed our kids. Baby food is mostly puree, watered food without much nutrient value. It is designed to teach feeding skills as opposed to providing nutritional benefits. We can help our children get off to a good start with healthy microbiome by moving them to healthy fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats as soon as they are able. Choosing oats and whole grain versus white flour is another great option. They can just as easily practice finger feeding with chopped, steamed sweet potatoes and other veggies than graduate foods and puffs. Children with the developmental ability of finger feeding can move to modified consistencies of the clean foods parents are eating. Choose nutrient dense and bacteria friendly foods instead of the canned and processed “snack foods”.
Utilize fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. You will avoid the extra added sugar and get the benefit of healthy fiber, which will contribute to good bacteria. Avoid the pouch veggies and fruits with processed ingredients which are helpful only in maintaining a longer shelf life.
Avoid processed foods; make your own macaroni and cheese versus the boxed pre-prepped variety. Throw sauce, ground sirloin, beans, and seasoning in a crock pot versus chili or spaghetti from a can.
Choose grass-fed, organic meats 90% or better in Lean quality. Grill and bake versus fry. Beans and legumes are full of fiber and help grow the good bacteria in your gut as well.
Make your own air popcorn versus the microwave theatre popcorn. Choose white meat nuggets if nuggets are a ‘must’ in your home. Choosing lean white meats versus fast food or fancy shaped, dark meat nuggets will cut down on the level of processing and additives required in those products. Cut a potato and air fry or bake your french fries versus fried or fast food.
Limit dairy and choose appropriate portions. Choose foods such as yogurt and kefir which are more likely to have higher strains of good probiotics. Choose plain, unsweetened yogurts and add fruit and honey to it in order to avoid the extra sugars added to many yogurts; (sugar feeds yeast).
Choosing clean doesn’t have to be time consuming and overwhelming.
Supplement, supplement, supplement! Choose probiotics and prebiotics of good quality and choose a probiotic with enzymes and chitonase to address the yeast overgrowth as well. Choose methylated, bioavailable multivitamins with aloe for improved absorption. Multivitamins of this quality will be ready for your body to absorb and utilize the nutrients. The better we nourish our body, the better job it will do in fighting bad bacteria and yeast from our body. The better choices we make, the less bad bacteria we will add to our system.
Water, water, water! Don’t avoid drinking enough water to avoid having to use the restroom. We need a minimum of ½ our body weight in ounces daily to flush the toxins from our system. We eliminate toxins through pee, poop, and sweat. This means that adequate water for urine output the color of light lemonade and regular stooling patterns, (defined by 2 or more soft serve consistency stools daily), is critical to adequately flush these toxins out of our body for better microbiome balance. Stooling every couple days, (or longer), is not ok for anyone.
Nutrition is important. Supplements are important. Moving your body is important.
You do it first and your children are more likely to follow.
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