(STATEPOINT) — Your gut health affects more than just how your stomach feels. Recent scientific breakthroughs have uncovered links between the state of the gut microbiome and a range of human health issues such as obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, cardiovascular disease, immune system disorders, asthma and even cancer and its treatment.
Experts say that understanding the gut microbiome may change how these diseases are diagnosed and treated. Additionally, specific microbes have been linked to good digestive health.
“The gut microbiome is currently subject to intense and growing interest within the medical and pharmaceutical industries, but is also of great interest to average people,” says Michael Farrell, PhD, Managing Director of Biome360, an emerging biotechnology and probiotics company.
Farrell says that with the right tools and knowledge, anyone can positively influence and manage his or her own gut microbiome in the pursuit of better overall health. He is offering the following tips:
• Assess your existing gut health and monitor changes over time. New tools, like the Gut Microbiome Sampling Kit, from Biome360, make it possible to do so at home. The sample collection process requires no training or preparation and the Biome360 dashboard allows users to learn about and explore their gut microbiome, and compare it to age and gender-matched healthy peers.
• Supplement your gut health with targeted probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus. Probiotics support digestive and immune health, can aid in weight loss and can lower the bad bacteria in your body that can cause infections and other problems. Probiotic supplements are especially important after a course of antibiotics.
• What you eat matters. Make sure you get high-quality fiber in your diet — the recommended daily intake of 25 to 38 grams — and take steps to limit processed carbohydrates. Include fermented foods in your diet, which are packed with beneficial bacteria. Good choices include yogurt, cottage cheese, kimchi, tempeh, natto, kambucha, sauerkraut, miso, milk kefir and pickles.
• Exercise early and often. Exercise, early in life, can alter microbial communities for the better, promoting healthier brain and metabolic activity over the course of a lifetime, according to recent research at the University of Colorado.
You may not realize how much control you have over your own health. With the right information at your fingertips, you can learn more about what is happening inside your gut, and take informed action to improve your health.