You might have been inspired to start a deep clean of your living space this season, as the words ‘spring cleaning’ crop up just about everywhere you look. The usual suspects are obvious: floors to mop, a freezer to de-frost, shower heads to decalcify. But, have you ever thought of refreshing your gut? The microbial composition in you gut can be what leads to feeling sluggish or heavy during those long Winter months. Well, that’s exactly why we’re here to help you revive your gut microbiome and achieve your deepest spring clean yet – no bleach involved.
By Asha Zaharudin
Numerous studies have shown how our gut microbiome is intrinsically linked to the food we eat. Its impact can be seen as early as our mother’s diet during pregnancy, and crucially as breast milk and solid food are introduced to our diet1. These days, diets that are high in fat, sugar, and red and processed meats – typical of Western countries – result in a gut microbiome that is significantly lower in microbial species diversity and abundance, compared to other regional diets2.
High-fat, high-sugar processed foods reduce bacterial diversity
Our natural tendency to crave high-carb comfort foods over the Winter months usually results in a feel-good sensation (thanks, serotonin!3) that becomes short-lived once the new season comes around. The result is an imbalance of bacterial diversity: bacteria correlating with intestinal inflammation, such as those from the Bacteroides and Enterobacteria genera and certain E. coli populations, are increased while beneficial fiber-digesting Firmicutes (i.e. Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria) are reduced4. These microbiome changes, also known as dysbiosis, have also been associated with higher risks of obesity, long-term weight gain, and higher incidence of gastrointestinal diseases such as IBD.
While certain bacterial species are beneficial in abundance, a healthy gut microbiome requires richness in diversity.
In a study comparing consumers of a Western diet versus a Mediterranean diet, in which foods higher in fiber, beneficial fatty acids, and plant-based proteins are preferred, those sticking to the latter diet demonstrated significantly higher microbial diversity and increased levels of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), Prevotella, and Firmicutes, all of which are associated with lower cardiovascular risk4.
Becoming more mindful of what you consume can re-establish a healthier gut microbiome to give you a fresh start for the year. Evidence also suggests positive microbiome changes can lift your mood and help you avoid bloating.
Probiotics can significantly reset your gut microbiome
We are big on probiotics here at GUTXY, and for good reason. These are the ‘good’ bacteria that confer health benefits to our microbial community, helping to improve or prevent, among other physiological conditions, gut inflammation, IBS, and IBD5,6.
Fermented vegetables such as kimchi and sauerkraut, which have been fermented with a variety of lactic acid bacteria, have also shown to improve symptoms in IBS patients while positively altering gut microbiota composition.
While supplemental probiotics are a good option, incorporating probiotic-rich food into your daily meals can be a more delicious and natural route. You can find cultured products all over the world – think kombucha, kefir, miso, tempeh and lasso – all very readily available. Many fermented products are rich in desirable bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera, which are some of the key players in regulating the microbial population of the digestive systems7.
Fermented vegetables such as kimchi and sauerkraut, which have been fermented with a variety of lactic acid bacteria, have also shown to improve symptoms in IBS patients while positively altering gut microbiota composition8,9.
Take the first step to your digestive spring clean by looking at your personal microbiome – by discovering your unique composition, you can better target any dietary changes and lifestyle choices to perfectly suit your needs.
Customise your digestive spring clean with GUTXY’s personalised Wellness Report
If you are interested in taking the first step towards restoring the microbes in your gut but are unsure of where to start, try RESET – GUTXY’s new Wellness Intervention program that offers full support and guidance on your journey towards a healthier microbiome.
- Ding, T., & Schloss, P. D. (2014). Dynamics and associations of microbial community types across the human body. Nature, 509(7500), 357–360. doi:1038/nature13178
- Gupta, V. K., Paul, S., & Dutta, C. (2017). Geography, Ethnicity or Subsistence-Specific Variations in Human Microbiome Composition and Diversity. Frontiers in microbiology, 8, 1162. doi:3389/fmicb.2017.01162
- Wurtman, R. J., & Wurtman, J. J. (1995). Brain serotonin, carbohydrate-craving, obesity and depression. Obesity Research, 3(4), 477S–480S. doi:1002/j.1550-8528.1995.tb00215.x
- Dong, T. S., & Gupta, A. (2018). Influence of Early Life, Diet, and the Environment on the Microbiome. Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, 17(2), 231–242. doi:1016/j.cgh.2018.08.067
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2001). Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria. Cordoba, Argentina: World Health Organization.
- Hemarajata, P., & Versalovic, J. (2013). Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology, 6(1), 39–51. doi:1177/1756283X12459294
- Heller, K. J. (2001). Probiotic bacteria in fermented foods: product characteristics and starter organisms. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73(2), 374s-379s. doi:1093/ajcn/73.2.374s
- Nielsen, E.S., Garnås, E., Jensen, K. J., Hansen, L. H., Olsen, P. S., Ritz, C., Krych, L., Nielsen, D. S. (2018). Lacto-fermented sauerkraut improves symptoms in IBS patients independent of product pasteurisation – a pilot study. Food & function, 9(10), 5323–5335. doi: 1039/C8FO00968F
- Yang, SJ., Lee, JE., Lim, SM. et al. (2019). Antioxidant and immune-enhancing effects of probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum200655 isolated from kimchi. Food science & biotechnology, 28(491), 491–499. doi: 1007/s10068-018-0473-3