We’ve all tried to makeover our lives in some way or another. Maybe it’s to get in better shape, improve overall health, find more daily joy, jettison a bad habit, or just become a kinder person. But with physical, mental, and perhaps even spiritual well-being so firmly rooted in microbial health, why not simply commit to giving your microbiome a much-needed upgrade?
After all, it’s one of those all-encompassing life changes that could cover a multitude of goals in a single shot.
Every amazing, life altering journey begins with small, manageable steps that over time add up to a total change in scenery. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a swath of encouraging research on the human microbiome and our connection with nature, and we’re getting more clarity into how we can best take care of our gut health and the foundation of our well-being on a daily basis.
It’s no secret that our microbiomes have to work hard to stand up to lifestyle factors aimed at depleting our beneficial bacteria, such as processed foods, refined sugar, over-sanitization, stress, pollution, lack of exercise, and certain medications. Luckily, you can take steps that positively impact your microbial balance and keep your beneficial bacteria thriving so you can do the same.
Ready to take those first steps toward making over your microbiome? We’ve put together 16 of our team’s favorite ways to expedite the journey to well-being.
The best place to start your microbial makeover is the kitchen! Your body is literally made of all the things you eat, so take a good look through your pantry and fridge and ditch all the processed foods, sweets, trans fats, refined carbs, and anything that contains chemical additives, GMOs, or preservatives. Everyone knows that stuff is unhealthy in general, but it’s more than that—the types of microbes we don’t want in our bodies love refined sugar and processed foods. When we eat a poor diet we’re starving out our friendly flora and putting out the welcome mat for a host of tiny troublemakers.
So what’s the best way to eat for a balanced microbiome? The great news is that a huge variety of eating styles can be accomplished in a gut-healthy way. Whether you embrace a paleo, ketogenic, vegetarian, vegan, or Mediterranean diet, the thing to remember is to eat mostly whole foods (preferably organic) in their natural state. This includes lots of fiber-rich plant foods (like broccoli, onions, berries, and leafy greens), healthy fats (like avocado, nuts, and seeds), and probiotic foods (like kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut). Preparing gut-healthy meals and desserts is a lot easier and more affordable than you might think. If you need a little inspiration, check out our gut-healthy cookbook.
When you’re busy keeping loved ones healthy through the cold winter months, it’s easy to neglect your own precious immune system. Stress, pollutants, processed foods, certain medications, and a frantic life pace all take their toll on immune function—but for many of us, the idea of making time for immune self-care may not feel realistic.
Fortunately, giving your own immune system some love doesn’t have to distract you from all the good you do. It could be as simple as drinking warm water with lemon or a delicious tea while you contemplate feeling thankful for your life and all of its parts. Also, supplementing with an immune-friendly probiotic formula is a way of loving and appreciating your body, and your microbes will thank you.
Autoimmuni-Tea’s Anti-Inflammatory Super Blend is also a smart pick, combining aromatic herbs like turmeric and rooibos that deliciously support immune function with every sip. Savor the tea as is or create your own rich golden milk by adding honey, black pepper, and coconut or almond milk. And relaxing with a warm beverage can help put stress on the back burner—making this lovely tea even better for your immune health.
Our Hyperbiotics Immune Daily Wellness Support probiotic formula rounds out your team for an effortless positive lifestyle change. This once-daily tablet combines five targeted probiotic strains with echinacea, chelated zinc, vitamin C, and EpiCor® (made from fermented yeast), and then delivers those beneficial organisms to your gut with 15X more survivability than capsules. This vegetarian, non-GMO premium probiotic supplement is free of soy, lactose, gluten, sugar, nuts, and artificial additives of any kind, so you can care for your immune health without reservation.
What could be a more simple step than remembering to drink enough water? Our bodies are about 60% water, and water comprises about 80% of our brains, so staying hydrated is absolutely essential for optimal wellness. Water helps us regulate blood pressure, protects our joints, and even helps us think clearly. But that’s not all—water is also important for gut health!1,2
Proper hydration is an individualized thing; just divide your weight in pounds by two and that’s the approximate number of ounces of water you’ll want to ingest each day. Interestingly though, you only need to drink about 70-80% of your water requirement, because many gut healthy foods are packed with the water your body craves. Most fruits and veggies are very hydrating—for example, cucumbers, celery, watermelon, grapefruit, tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower are all made up of at least 90% water!
One of the simplest ways to embrace hydration is to begin each day with a glass of room temperature water. That small act gets your gut ready for proper digestion, your brain prepared to process ideas, and your metabolism primed to burn calories.
Most people associate dietary fiber with comfortable digestion and elimination. That’s accurate, but there’s actually a lot more to the story. Plant fiber also acts as a powerful prebiotic, providing your friendly gut flora with the perfect nutrition they need to thrive and reproduce. The bottom line is that without prebiotic fiber, your probiotic microbes would starve.
Lots of delicious foods are great prebiotics—like almonds, apples, onions, broccoli, berries, and bananas—and most plant foods contain at least some prebiotic fiber. But because it can sometimes be challenging to get enough prebiotics from diet alone, it’s helpful to supplement with our gentle organic Prebiotic Powder that’s easy to blend into smoothies or stir into soft foods like oatmeal or yogurt.
Why does snacking get such a bad rap? The truth is, only unhealthy snacks are bad for you. So rather than trying not to snack at all, the trick is to upgrade the quality of your snack foods. When you feel the urge to munch, instead of reaching for processed foods that contain sugar, salt, artificial additives, and GMOs that harm the microbiome, grab an apple or a handful of raw nuts.
No time to even wash an apple? No worries! Here are a few wholesome, gut-healthy, and seriously yummy prepared snack foods you’ll love:
• Thunderbird bars: Made from only fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices, these vegan, non-GMO bars satisfy your hunger and your sweet tooth with no added sugar.
• Honey Mama’s: You really can calm your chocolate craving with no remorse! Sourced from direct trade, organic, and non-GMO superfood ingredients, these vegan chocolate bars come in heavenly flavors like Nibs & Coffee, Ginger Cardamom, and Mayan Spice.
• Hippeas: Beans as a snack? Absolutely with Hippeas. These USDA certified organic chickpea puffs are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and kosher—not to mention a good source of prebiotic fiber. They come in tantalizing savory flavors like bohemian barbecue and sriracha sunshine, and this snack is also good for the planet because chickpeas naturally release vital nitrogen back into the earth as they grow.
• Spudsy: These crunchy puffs are made with only natural, healthy ingredients like sweet potatoes, pea protein, sunflower oil, and rice flour. And with flavors like barbecue, cheddar, and cinnamon, there’s something to please every palate.
Looking for more healthy ways to snack? Check out these additional gut-friendly snacking ideas.
Positive dietary changes are wonderful, but in reality your body may not be absorbing all those awesome nutrients you’re taking in. Our body’s ability to make digestive enzymes naturally declines with age, and factors like stress, overeating, over (or under) exercising, and certain medications can reduce digestive enzyme production even further.3,4,5
An easy way to make sure you’re making the most of your healthy food choices is to begin each meal with a digestive enzyme supplement. Look for a high quality, targeted blend of digestive enzymes like 42Nutrition that’s ethically sourced, vegan, non-GMO, and also contains prebiotic fiber to aid digestion for total gut wellness. This tiny step turns every good meal into a great one.
Sunny yellow turmeric adds savory richness to meals, and it’s gotten lots of press for the way it supports health in almost every area of the body—including the microbiome! Turmeric has been studied extensively for its ability to encourage the growth of beneficial gut microbes, which makes it a welcome addition to any microbial makeover.6
Sari Foods Organic Turmeric Powder adds gut boosting flavor to soups, casseroles, stir fries, and smoothies. To help your body absorb all that golden goodness even more fully, consider stirring in a bit of black pepper and/or healthy fat to further enhance bioavailability.
With all the yucky food additives out there, being health conscious can easily be reduced to a label reading game. While it’s smart to avoid harmful ingredients, you can avoid the time consuming, stressful process of scrutinizing all those labels by simply choosing fewer prepared foods and more organic whole foods that come directly from the earth.
Enjoying more whole food dishes doesn’t have to take up all your time either—it only takes minutes to steam fresh greens or toss together a refreshing fruit salad. And making friends with your slow cooker means you can throw a bunch of healthy ingredients in when you wake up, go about your usual business, and have a delicious, gut-healthy dinner ready when you get home.
Your gut isn’t the only location in your body with a vital microbial community—you’ve also got an active oral microbiome!7 When the probiotic flora in your mouth are doing well, that helps keep your teeth and gums healthy and your breath kissably sweet.
But the impact of the oral microbiome stretches far beyond just the mouth. After all, your mouth connects either directly or indirectly with every cell in your body, and the state of your oral microbiome can affect digestion, immunity, respiratory health, cardiovascular wellness, and much more.8,9,10
One convenient way to support your mouth microbes is to supplement with an oral probiotic like PRO-Dental. Just chew one or two refreshing minty tablets after brushing to repopulate your mouth with just the right probiotic strains to encourage oral (and overall) health. And since so many oral hygiene products contain additives that harm your delicate oral microbiome, consider a microbe friendly toothpaste option like Hyperbiotics Activated Charcoal Probiotic Toothpaste to gently whiten teeth while maintaining healthy microbial balance.
Fragrant ginger is a beloved signature ingredient in delectable pumpkin pies and gingerbread cookies—but it’s also an excellent way to care for your gut. Whether you like it fresh, dried, powdered, or juiced, ginger deliciously encourages healthy, efficient, comfortable digestion, and it’s been studied for its inhibition of undesirable gut and oral bacteria species.11,12, 13,14
You can instantly drink in a burst of ginger goodness with a drink like Goldthread’s Hawaiian Ginger Tonic. This rejuvenating tropical treat combines ginger grown in rich Hawaiian volcanic soil with exotic botanicals like jasmine, vanilla, lemongrass, and tangerine to treat your tastebuds and friendly gut bugs to an island vacation experience.
There’s something about time spent in nature that creates a sense of well-being, and recent science confirms that being outdoors is good for our health. Numerous studies explore the connection between exposure to nature and positive mood, healthy weight and blood pressure, stress reduction, and strong immunity—all of which encourage increased microbial diversity.15, 16,17,18,19, 20
Playing outdoors also boosts microbial diversity in a more direct way. When you climb a tree, build a sandcastle, or plant seeds in the warm earth you’re introducing a host of new beneficial organisms to your microbial community.
While you’re outdoors, keep in mind that the act of joyful movement in itself helps strengthen your microbiome. So when you run, cycle, hike, or take a yoga class outdoors, your friendly gut bugs get a boost on multiple levels. You can even just put on your favorite tunes and dance under the sky!
There’s no need to wait until spring to get outside—sensible exposure to cold temps may even add a few years to your life!21 And a cold water dip actually boosts endorphins, which strengthens the immune system.22,23 So start communing with nature today: build a snowman, go for a winter walk in the woods, or take a quick polar bear plunge!
The intricate network of cell receptors and corresponding molecules known as your endocannabinoid system winds throughout all the areas of your body to maintain head-to-toe homeostasis—and that includes your gut.
Interestingly, while endocannabinoid receptors respond to internally produced molecules, they’re also sensitive to plants in the cannabis family. This makes it easy to give your endocannabinoid system a helping hand with hemp-derived CBD supplements like Hempure CBD Drops. These full-spectrum drops are extracted from organic hemp plants, which are rich in terpenes and beneficial fatty acids but don’t contain psychoactive THC. CBD encourages a calm, positive mood while supporting your microbial diversity, a strong gut barrier, and overall health.24,25 And with refreshing flavors like peppermint and lemon, gut TLC is an absolute pleasure!
Before you reach for that moisturizer, cream, or antiperspirant, hang on a sec...you may be about to undermine all the energy you’ve been putting into caring for your microbes. Many popular skincare products are chock full of dangerous chemical additives that harm the skin’s probiotic microbial flora. To make matters even worse, some of these toxins are absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, where they can do some serious damage to the gut microbiome.26
It’s time to swap out all those chemical creams and lotions for safe, wholesome skincare products that also streamline your beauty routine. For example, Valentia’s Organic Argan Oil moisturizes and hydrates even sensitive skin for a radiant, ageless complexion—and you can also use it for soft, luscious lips or to condition hair and nails. This luxurious golden oil is ethically sourced, cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain any artificial additives that could harm you or the planet.
To stay confident in high temps or stressful moments, Mabrook & Co.’s cruelty-free Clean Deodorant effectively fights odor using activated charcoal, kaolin clay, and magnesium—without aluminum, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, propylene glycol, baking soda, or other harmful ingredients commonly found in antiperspirants.
Yikes! Even washing your hair can be hazardous to friendly microbes! Shampoo often contains sulfates and other additives that wreak havoc on your inner and outer microbiome. But don’t worry—being serious about a microbial makeover doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to dirty hair. Try an all natural alternative like Mother Dirt’s biome friendly shampoo, which has a short ingredient list that includes plant based cleansers, Rosa damascena flower water, and baobab. In addition to happier microbes, ditching those harsh chemicals will leave your hair feeling softer, shinier, healthier, and stronger.
Everyone loves a fresh, clean house, but there’s definitely such a thing as too clean when it comes to your microbes. Sanitizing every surface with antimicrobial cleaning products kills off both beneficial and unwanted bacterial species—leaving your home so microbe-free that kids’ immune systems may not get to “practice” and mature properly. And when too many microbes are wiped out, this sets the perfect stage for antibiotic-resistant superbugs to take hold and multiply.27
But there are even more dangers lurking in toxic cleaning products. Long term exposure to the types of toxins found in common household cleaners is associated with lung damage comparable to what would be expected of someone who smoked 20 cigarettes every day!28
Thankfully, you can still clean up without endangering microbial diversity or your wellness by adopting a healthier approach to housecleaning. Aunt Fannie’s non-toxic, vinegar-based cleaning products respect your home’s vital microbiome and still make every room sparkle. These gentle but effective cleaners are safe to use around pets and come in welcoming natural scents like sweet mandarin, lavender, lime-mint, and eucalyptus.
In today’s fast paced world, no microbial makeover would be complete without carving out a little time to just be in the present moment. Mindfulness and meditation ease the mind and body from a “fight or flight” state to a much more relaxed “rest and digest” mode. As your relaxation response kicks in, you’ll recharge your batteries and experience more comfortable digestion. And because being frazzled and stressed is so damaging to the microbiome, a daily oasis of calm helps keep your gut in balance.
Bringing meditation and mindfulness into your life isn’t mysterious and you don’t need a huge time commitment. As little as two minutes a day can make a real difference. You might want to take a class, follow a guided meditation online, or experience meditation on your own by sitting quietly where you won’t be disturbed and trying one of these basic techniques:• Simply focus on and observe your breath without trying to change it.
If your attention drifts (and it will!) don’t beat yourself up. Just gently return to your focus.
It only takes one small step to begin your microbial makeover, and hopefully by now you’re feeling inspired to take that first one. Wishing you and your microbes a joyous journey!
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2. Colgan, S. P. (2013). Swimming Through the Gut: Implications of Fluid Transport on the Microbiome. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 58(3), 602-603. doi:10.1007/s10620-013-2575-3
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