This post is really just as much about educating anyone who’s interested in their microbiome as it is a reminder to me to pay attention to mine. Around finals, deadlines, in addition to the holidays coming up, I know I tend to let simple things like keeping up with my microbiome slide, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
What Is a Microbiome?
To get this started, I need to break down this sort of medical-world-buzz-word: microbiome. Specifically, a microbiome refers to a tiny ecosystem, consisting of microscopic organisms like bacteria.
In most of the ways you hear it used nowadays, a humans microbiome is the population of good and bad bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tracts.
The coolest thing about microbiomes is that they are crazy different in every single person on the planet. Just like your fingerprints, your microbiome is unique to you, which is why it’s important to be aware if it and take care of it.
And when I say taking care of it, I mean things like acknowledging when you feel like there’s a problem and addressing it, as well as always taking preventative measures to ensure that you’re avoiding as many microbiome related problems that you can.
How Do I Manage My Microbiome?
Managing your microbiome, for the most part, means incorporating probiotics into your diet as much as you can. It also means avoiding or limiting things that can deter your microbiome from flourishing.
Things like frequent antibiotic use can be really harmful to your microbiome, because while antibiotics target the bad bacteria that make you sick, they also target your good bacteria in your gut. Drinking alcohol very often or in large quantities can be bad for your gut too.
Things like not getting enough exercise or sleep can be bad for your overall health, and so of course these two things can also be bad for your microbiome health.
As far as making sure your microbiome is merry, I recommend either taking supplemental probiotics (Douglas Labs makes a good one!), taking probiotics shots (GoodBelly is a neat one to check out), or incorporating Greek yogurt into your diet on a daily basis (this one is my favorite, mostly because Chobani yogurt is absolutely delicious).
What Can Microbiome Awareness Help Me With?
Your microbiome actually plays a super key role in the way that your body digests food and uptakes nutrients. And, let’s be honest, we all love eating. So if you’re going to love eating, you’ve got to love your microbiome too.
The composition of your microbiome can impact a wide variety of health components in your body. Things like acne are related to the state of your microbiome. Ties have been seen to your microbiome composition relative to the types of food you eat and colorectal cancers. There are many more examples, but basically your microbiome is very important for keeping you from getting sick.
It also is a huge part of the reason we can digest our food. Our microbiomes are full of bacteria that do jobs that our body doesn’t know how to, like breaking down fibers that our bodies can’t and using those as energy. They also make a variety of vitamins and minerals that our bodies require to function, but again, cannot produce on their own.