On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your overall health? In a Western culture that’s having an increasingly difficult time focusing on the importance of properly fueling our bodies and being active, few of us might confidently give ourselves a ten.
One thing that is becoming more and more clear is that if you want to achieve lasting wellness as nature intended, it's critical to consider the world of bacteria that lives on and within us - our microbiome.
Why a microbial balance is key
Scientists are discovering the wondrous influence of our microbiome and how we might be able to harness its power to create new forms of medicine and help elevate health on a global scale. It's an exciting time as the evolution of technology and our knowledge of human microbiology merge to create better ways in which we can all achieve a natural state of well-being.
But first things first. In order to gauge the effects of an optimal microbiome, nearly all scientists are in agreement: we must ensure we each have the proper microbial symbiosis (aka healthy balance of bacteria) we need to achieve ideal health.
Modern life, including age, diet, antibiotics in our food and as medicine, over-sanitizing, and even exposure to toxins in the atmosphere can contribute to the decrease in our good bacteria in the gut and oral cavity - where a majority of our microbes like to congregate. This reduction in good bacteria can throw our microbiomes into an unbalanced state and leave us feeling subpar all too frequently.
How can we bring balance to our microbiomes to live healthier lives?
When we talk about optimizing our health, the first things that come to mind are usually a healthy diet and exercise. Although fruits and vegetables provide the life-sustaining nutrients and vitamins that your body needs to properly function, it can be difficult to consume all that your microbiome needs to thrive - especially when it’s consistently working to find balance amongst the daily barrage of life's microbe-depleting influences.
By taking targeted and effective supplements, you can make up for the nutrients that may be missing from your diet in order to restore balance and feel better all around.
Nutritional supplements that can help support your microbiome
When it comes to selecting the right supplements, it can be overwhelming to know which is best for your particular situation. You might even have a difficult time pronouncing some of the options available, let alone describing their function in your body. However, when your goal is to optimize your microbial health, here are a few key supplements you might want to consider:
1. Probiotics: Anyone who has experienced an active, positive shift in the health of their microbiome will tell you that both probiotics and prebiotics played a key role. Probiotics are the good bacteria that work on our behalf to keep us healthy. When cared for, our good bacteria (especially those that reside within the gastrointestinal tract), have a chance to flourish and get to work supporting many critical aspects of our health.
From supporting our energy levels, regulating immune function, keeping glucose levels in check, helping us absorb the nutrition from our foods, and playing a distinct role in digestive health and regularity - the presence of good bacteria in our system quietly determines how we feel each day.
With diligence, it is possible to get a sufficient intake of probiotics from your food and spending time outdoors; however, because probiotics are living organisms, it can be difficult to receive a consistent, maximized dosage that can help shift you into a more balanced state of health.
By taking an effective, natural probiotic supplement like Hyperbiotics PRO-15, you can help ensure that you're getting a high number of these powerful good guys into your system on a daily basis.
2. Prebiotic Powders: When you consume the aforementioned probiotics and they make it to your digestive tract, they are fed and nourished by one thing: prebiotics. Prebiotics are a special kind of soluble fiber that is utilized predominantly by the good bacteria as their fuel. In fact, we can’t even digest prebiotics -- their sole purpose is to feed our gut bacteria. It’s through feeding our good bacteria that prebiotics present their power as foundational elements in helping the microbiome flourish.
And even though beneficial prebiotics like inulin and oligofructose can be found in thousands of foods throughout nature, many of us living in industrialized countries simply don’t get enough of this valuable food source. The more prebiotics you can squeeze into your diet the better, but a great option is a natural prebiotic powder that you can mix into your smoothies or other foods to give your microbes their best chance at colonizing and thriving.
3. Magnesium: Unfortunately, our depleted soils are typically low in magnesium, a crucial mineral required for the function of hundreds of enzymes in the gut. The National Institutes of Health recommends that the average person should consume between 320 mg and 420 mg of magnesium each day - preferably through your diet to maximize the absorption of this important nutrient.
If you can't get enough magnesium into your diet through foods alone, a high-quality supplement made with magnesium can help improve immunity, help with digestion and regularity, assist in converting insulin into energy, and even help with mild, occasional menstrual cramps and hot flashes in women.
4. Fish Oil: The healthy fats in fish oil are said to prevent temporary inflammation and are highly recommended for pregnant women as they promote both optimal brain development and healthy childbirth. New research about fish oil’s relationship with our microbiome continues to show how it can be beneficial to our health. You see, fish oil has a high amount of dietary fiber which nourishes the good bacteria living in our gut environment.
A recent study by Kerry Bentley-Hewitt found that there is potential for combining fish oil with the bacteria Lactobacillus gasseri to promote probiotic survival in the gut, even in the presence of microbes that can cause harm to our beneficial bacteria.1
5. L-Glutamine: Although you may not have heard of it, L-glutamine is the most abundant, naturally-occurring amino acid in the human body. Amino acids are critical because they fuel white blood cells, support the immune system, help to build and repair muscle tissue, and metabolize the proteins from our food.
Meat, fish, poultry and other seafood are the best places to find L-glutamine, but you can also get it from protein-rich plants like cabbage, dried lentils, peas, and beans too. Taking it in supplement form can deliver a large boost to your system and support the effects of a variety of ailments, from exercise-related muscle and joint pains, to occasional diarrhea. When it comes to your microbiome, studies have shown that L-glutamine can positively affect our immune response, help heal the intestinal wall (reducing gut permeability) and help balance your intestinal microflora.2
6. Vitamin D: An important aspect of a healthy microbiome is oral health because the gut starts in the mouth. (After all, it's the main entry point for unwanted microbes that can create issues within the body.) Vitamin D helps lay the groundwork for oral health by functioning as an anti-inflammatory and stimulating the production of antimicrobial peptides in the oral cavity - allowing for a balanced oral microbiome and a better immune response overall.
Since our body takes in vitamin D from sunlight, it’s important to supplement because many of us avoid the sun or wear sunblock. You can get your daily dosage of the "sunshine" vitamin with 1-2 drops of a natural vitamin D supplement.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that many of our foods are grown in lower quality soil, and our environment is often littered with toxins so we can be lacking nutrients even while eating the healthiest diet imaginable. Because probiotics can increase nutrient absorption, the best way to ensure you’re getting the most from any supplements you take and foods you consume is to start with a potent probiotic and to add on from there.
By supplementing with these beneficial micronutrients, you can further improve your chances of staying healthy and promote balance in your microbiome.
1. Bentley-Hewitt, K. L., Guzman, C. E., Ansell, J., Mandimika, T., Narbad, A., & Lund, E. K. (2015). How fish oils could support our friendly bacteria. Lipid Technology, 27(8), 179-182.
2. Hulst, R. V., Meyenfeldt, M. V., Deutz, N., Soeters, P., Brummer, R., Kreel, B. V., & Arends, J. (1993). Glutamine and the preservation of gut integrity. The Lancet,341(8857), 1363-1365.
Julie Hays is the Communications Director here at Hyperbiotics. Health writer and mama of two little girls, Julie's on a mission to empower others to live lives free of the microbial depletion many of us face today. For more ideas on how you can maximize wellness and benefit from the power of probiotics, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
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