This is a post written by Sunwarrior—an elephant partner. We’re honored to work with anyone who is this dedicated to conscious consumerism, creating a healthy gut using plant-based ingredients, and helping us finally get a much-needed reset for our bellies—and bodies. ~ Ed.
We once thought that the trillions of bacteria living in our gut affected only our digestion, but scientists are discovering that the medley of our microbiomes can alter cravings, weight, and even mood.
These bacterial mixes are now being studied in association with diabetes, Celiac disease, Alzheimer’s, autism, anxiety, obesity, allergies, multiple sclerosis, and many other illnesses and disorders you wouldn’t suspect might be linked to microorganisms feeding off your waste.
In the wake of many of these studies, fecal transplant companies started springing up in major cities across the United States, happy to pay healthy individuals good money for their number twos. But the FDA quickly squashed the booming business, allowing the transfer of microbes only for the treatment of Clostridium Difficile, a diarrheal illness that, true to its name, has proven difficult to treat in any other way.
Until the FDA opens up fecal transplants for other treatments, there are still plenty of ways you can reset and optimize your gut bacteria without turning to anything drastic and yet-untested.
Misuse of antibiotics is already creating superbugs, but it can also do real damage to your microbiome, killing off good bacteria with the bad. Only use antibiotics with a prescription for a bacterial infection. They are useless against the common cold and other viral infections.
Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that go to work for you once they reach your gut, pushing out the less friendly varieties. Yogurts, sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, kimchee, and other fermented veggies are your friends in every way, improving digestion, mood, anxiety levels, and general health.
Consider taking a probiotic supplement to help reinforce your microscopic army of helpful bacteria. The best ones can be found refrigerated in your health food stores. Many other supplements have added probiotics. Vegan proteins and supergreens can have both probiotics and fermented ingredients for added benefits. Sunwarrior recently released a new meal replacement, illumin8, that contains a good dose of shelf-stable probiotics, fermented superfoods, and quality, plant-based protein.
You can encourage a balanced microbiome by feeding your good bacteria their favorite foods. The best prebiotics are found in fibers. Dandelion, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, leeks, asparagus, jicama, and slightly under-ripe bananas are great sources. There are also supplements available.
Cut the Sugar
Nothing unbalances your microbiome like too much sugar and carbs. Sugar increases inflammation, which can kill off good bacteria. It absorbs quickly, which leaves your friendly microbes starving. It also feeds less beneficial microbes, including the fungi candida and the sweet-loving bacteria that cause cavities and increased cravings. You still need carbs to sustain your metabolism, but these should come from whole foods. Think fresh fruits and vegetables.
Watch Artificial Sweeteners
The sweeteners we use to cut calories can also upset the balance of your gut environment. We may not digest these non-sugars, but our gut bacteria may break them down into less desirable compounds that increase glucose intolerance, diabetes risk, and weight gain. Stick to natural sweeteners like stevia, monkfruit, and coconut sugar.
This may sound like it won’t affect your microbiome, but there is a direct nerve running from the brain to the gut with communication flowing both ways all the time. An imbalance in your bacterial variety can contribute to anxiety, stress, depression, cravings, and lack of concentration. You can also encourage resets and rebalances by consciously controlling those same outcomes. Take a few deep breaths, focus on the present, and feel the difference.
Give it Time
Changing the environment inside you is going to take some time and work. You will have angry bacteria clamoring for sugar and affecting your mood in their desperate attempts to stay on top of the food chain down there. Resist the cravings and know that they will lessen as the more friendly little ones take over. Give yourself the time to change and forgive yourself for any missteps along the way. Stressing over it will only help the bacteria you want out of the way to flourish. Relax, you’ve got this.
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Here’s one easy recipe to get you started on your microbiome reset.
Simply Slim Vanilla-Berry
1 cup coconut milk
1 scoop illumin8 vanilla
½ cup frozen berries (acai is especially nice)
½ cup coconut yogurt for extra probiotics
Blend until creamy and enjoy.