5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Gut Microbiome (and Why it Matters)

August 12, 2023 at 9:21 p.m.


Whether we are aware of it or not, over 100 trillion microbial cells live in our gut, making up our gut microbiome, which plays an essential role in our health. There are many things that we do that can either improve our gut microbiome or make it worse. Knowing the things that can help improve your gut microbiome can be crucial to improving health and wellness. The good news is that there are simple things that everyone can do to make improvements. 

"Many people are now starting to learn about their gut microbiome and how they can influence the health of it,” explains Jennifer Scherer, a registered dietitian nutritionist, medical exercise specialist, certified personal trainer, and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. “This is great news because we can make meaningful improvements in our health by giving it some attention."

In the journal Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, researchers report that our gut microbiome influences human physiology, metabolism, nutrition, and immune function. The health of your gut microbiome has been linked to such conditions as inflammatory bowel disease; it plays a vital role in preventing the development of chronic diseases. 

Here are 5 ways to improve your gut microbiome:

  • Add more fiber. Adding more fiber to the diet will help feed the good bacteria and provide other health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, women should aim to get around 25 grams per day of fiber, and men should aim for about 38 grams per day. Fiber is only found in plant-based foods or supplements.
  • Reduce stress. When stressed out, people tend to eat more unhealthy foods, which feed the harmful bacteria in the gut. Take measures to keep stress down, finding something you enjoy doing, such as reading, yoga, meditation, exercising, etc.
  • Eat a variety. Getting a lot of different plant foods is an ideal way to improve the gut microbiome. Aim to eat many different kinds of plants each week, or try to "eat the rainbow" to get a variety of colors in your diet from plants. The plants feed the good bacteria and are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
  • Take a probiotic. In the journal Molecules, researchers report that probiotics are beneficial and can change the composition of the flora. They report that taking probiotics has become an extremely effective way to improve human immunity by regulating the gut microbiome. They further say that probiotics can improve people’s lives.
  • Consume fermented foods. Stanford Medicine reports that eating a diet rich in fermented foods boosts the microbiome. Fermented foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt, and kefir. In their study, adding fermented foods to the diet was even more potent for improving gut microbiota than increasing fiber intake. 

“Even making small changes in this area can help improve your gut microbiome," added Scherer. "At first, you have to think about it, and then doing these things becomes second nature."

Fredericksburg Fitness is a personal training studio started by Jennifer Scherer, who has a background in human physiology, anatomy, nutrition, weight training, exercise and is also a registered dietitian. https://www.fburgfitness.com.

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