Gut Health: Supporting a Healthy Biome

photo-1540420773420-3366772f4999.jpeg

A healthy and diverse biome in the gut is the root of a healthy body and a healthy mind. In fact, Dr. Stephen Barrie, an expert in the field of microbiome believes, “it is our individual microbiome that is responsible for ALL disease states today”.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has long known the importance of digestion and its profound effect on the human body. In the 12th century, schools of thought were developed centering on the importance of “Preserving Stomach-Qi” as the most important treatment method. Zhang Jie Bin, one of the four great masters from the Ming Dynasty wrote, “The doctor who wants to nourish life has to tonify stomach and spleen”.  According to Li Dong-Yuan, it is most important to protect the spleen and stomach if one wants to stay healthy and to strengthen them once they become diseased no matter what other organs are affected. He believed, “if the root is sound the branch will prosper”.

Recent science has proven that our gut acts as our “second brain”. The bacteria in our gut produce hormones, neurotransmitters, serotonin and other chemicals not yet known. Our microbiome affects our daily thoughts, moods, actions and even dictates food cravingWe can influence the type of bacteria that colonize our gut by controlling what goes in and on our body. Just as our bodies are constantly seeking homeostasis, our microbiome wants that balance too. The primary goal of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to bring balance to the body to achieve a healthy mental, physical and emotional state. By balancing the body through acupuncture and herbs, we help the bacteria within also achieve balance. Microbiome research has shown that by nourishing our spleen and stomach channels (our biome), we simultaneously nourish both our physical and mental well-being. 

In addition to Chinese Medicine, food therapy is an essential way to support a balanced biome. First, consume a variety of fermented foods- at least one daily. In traditional cultures worldwide, fermented foods have played a part of every culture. Fermented foods feed our microbiome. Kimichi, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, miso, kefir and other fermented foods provide a variety of healthy bacteria. A daily ingestion of new live bacteria from fermented foods diversifies our gut bacteria. This diversity has been proven a key factor to a healthy gut ecosystem. Second, eat a diet rich in poly-saccharide foods, high fiber foods (50 -100 grams daily) and seasonally harvested vegetables and fruits. The more diverse, the better. Lastly, sugar should be completely eliminated. Sugar is digested and absorbed in the small intestine. Most of our good gut bacteria live in the lower colon. A diet high in sugar leaves nothing for our gut bacteria to feed on, so they will eventually starve if all we eat is sugary foods. Moreover, when our gut bacteria have nothing to eat they feed on the mucous membrane, which creates inflammation. 

Rebalance your microbiome with acupuncture, herbs, and nourishing food to support the health of your body and mind all year long.