Nourishing an Aging Microbiome for a Healthy Gut
Healthy gut is such an ugly sounding term, but the more I read about it, the more it sounds like a surprisingly beautiful thing. As far as I understand it, we’re not as much individual organisms as we are ecosystems. About half of the cells of our bodies aren’t “us”. Instead, they’re bacteria, fungi, yeast, and other microorganisms, most of which aren’t just harmless but are vital to our lives.
A Healthy Gut Means Wellness Overall
There is an entire world of life within your digestive system, especially in the intestines. When it’s off balance, what is known as dysbiosis, it means that the microflora in your digestive tract aren’t able to perform most beneficially to you. This can lead to a surprising number of health risks. I was genuinely amazed while I was doing my reading to write this post. It can impact:
- The immune system
- The endocrine system
- The cardiovascular system
- Obesity risk
- Diabetes risk
- Metabolic disorder risk
- Certain cancers
- Bone diseases and osteoporosis risk
- Circulatory issues
- And even cognitive aging such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
The trillions of lifeforms living in your healthy gut help you to avoid those problems, to obtain better nutrition from your food and to feel better overall.
Aging and the Microbiome
As is the case with pretty much everything, as we age, our microbiome changes. This is worsened by medication use and decreased physical activity.
Still, there are things we can do to help to keep up a healthy gut even as we age. These are quite small things in our lives, but they can make a substantial difference to our wellness, longevity and the reduction of our risk of various chronic ailments. They include:
- Eating enough fiber (this one is extremely important).
- Eating fewer refined foods (look for higher fiber, whole grain options instead)
- Consuming fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, naturally fermented pickles, sauerkraut and, if your tongue can take the heat, kimchi.
- Eating “resistant starch”. Yes, there is a good kind of starch.
- Eating yogurt with live lactobacillus culture in it.
- Going ahead and eating meat but eat less of it.
- Eating meals and snacks, but not grazing all day
By focusing on these tips overall, you can help to support your healthy gut. Don’t forget to also drink lots of water and get active, even if it’s just a walk every day. It’ll promote regularity and will give the little world inside you a boost it’ll reward you for.