Functional Medicine 5R Approach: 4th step – REPOPULATE
During this step we are going to look at what we can do to improve out gut microbiome and establish a healthy environment in which good gut bacteria can thrive.
Our gut is populated by trillions of bacteria. Each adult has approximately 2- 4kg of bacteria in the GIT (Gastro Intestinal Tract). These could be good, commensal or pathogenic bacteria.
The good gut microbiome and it’s diversity is extremely important to digestive and overall health. The wider the diversity of foods rich in good bacteria you consume, the healthier your gut flora will be. This in turn will manifest with improved immunity, stronger resistance to pathogens and healthier brain function.
Good gut bacteria is often called probiotic or friendly flora and they are responsible for multiple functions in the body. Lets have a look at some of them:
– prevention from dysbiosis
– keeps GIT inflammation low
– reduces occurrence of leaky gut
– promotes healthy bowel motility
– increases nutrient bioavailability
– fights commensal and pathogenic bacteria
– assures a healthy pH throughout the intestines
– produces some vitamins and essential cofactors
When friendly flora is constantly suppressed by commensal, pathogenic flora and other factors, it manifests with the following pathologies:
– All skin conditions: acne, psoriasis, eczema
– Digestive disorders: acid reflux, excessive gas, undigested food
– Parasite overgrowth: candida, viruses, yeast and pathogenic bacteria
– IBS and IBD including symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, constipation and diarrhoea
Let’s have a look at the factors which affect our gut microbiome:
– high cortisol or stress
– toxins derived from air, water, food, make up, creams and cleaning products
– foods high in sugar, salt, vinegar and synthetic preservatives, especially E numbers
What should we do to support our good gut flora?
It is as simple as trying to address the above areas and improving each slowly, building in new habits and making conscious choices. In addition we can increase foods which are rich in good bacterias such as:
When buying probiotic foods make sure they declare RAW on the packaging, because many companies pasteurise their products to increase life shelf time. The brands you can trust are:
The Cultures Cellar
Some of the fermented foods can be easily prepared at home, which would be an ideal option for many reasons. Try this easy recipe to make your Home Made Sauerkraut:
From now on probiotic foods should be present daily in meals. Long term this will help to rebalance your gut flora, strengthening your immune system; as 70% of immune cells live in the gut.
Another key factor for healthy gut microbiom is the presence of fibre in your meals. Fibres are also called prebiotics.
Prebiotics – (remember pre = before) – are food sources that good bacteria use to grow and multiply. It is very important to provide with most of your meal good source of fibre to support good gut flora. Foods rich in prebiotics or fibre are legumes (especially chickpeas), figs, peas, raw chicory, beets, fennel, broccoli, artichoke, raw Jerusalem artichoke and dark green leafy vegetables/salads.