By: Colleen Hammann
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
(3 min read)

By: Colleen Hammann
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
(5 min read)

How To Support A Healthy Microbiome
Almost 40 trillion gut microbes influence our health, that’s mind boggling! It’s no wonder the gut has earned the nickname “second brain”.

Would you believe that the total surface area of our gut is approximately the size of a small studio apartment - this is why diet has such a profound impact on health! The gut is the place where your food is digested, metabolized, and absorbed to be delivered into the cells and provide the body with energy. Gut microbes are are the first barrier of defense between what is considered the outside of our body and inside of our body. Probiotics help to keep the digestive system in a balanced state. It is essential in allowing for the removal of waste - this process of breaking down food creates bioactive compounds that either help support health or lead to inflammation, increasing the risk for disease.

Our gut health has implications beyond simply healthy digestion; the state of our gut health can also regulate the following:

Mood (through serotonin production)
Brain Health
Hormone balance
Nutrient absorption
Thyroid function
Heart health
Metabolic health, including our propensity to gain weight and our risk of diabetes

Here is how you can start supporting a healthy microbiome:

1. Eat a diverse range of fiber rich plant foods: 

Diet has a profound impact on the types of bacteria that thrive. Even a brief dietary change has been shown to alter the gut microbiota. For instance, organisms that support the breakdown of foods you normally consume flourish, while others perish. The more diversity in your diet, the more diverse and flourishing your microbiome is, which promotes the growth of healthy Bifidobacteria. Diets that are plant-based are especially supportive of the beneficial organisms in the gut.

2. Eat fermented foods:

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut contain healthy bacteria, like Lactobacilli, and can reduce the amount of disease-causing species in the gut. I try to sneak in a tablespoon of sauerkraut a day for my gut health. There are so many fun recipes out there for Sauerkraut other then the standard one for instance, a farmers market I love to go to in Piermont, NY and one of the vendors always has delicious fermented foods from kimchi to creative sauerkrauts like red cabbage, raisins, cinnamon and sea salt. Yum! Other fermented foods include miso, tempeh, apple cider vinegar, greek yogurt (watch for sugar content) kombucha (kombucha can also be high in sugar, check the nutrition facts label and choose the variety that is lowest in sugar per serving) pickles (make sure they are really fermented pickles and NOT ingredients that include natural flavors, yellow 5 or polysorbate 80. Yuck! I encourage you to also get creative and try to ferment your own foods.

3. Manage your stress levels:

A healthy microbiome can help alleviate Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Mood. You want to swing the balance in your favor against bad bacteria. A lot of thing can throw off this ecosystem. Things like internal stress like worrying and anxiety. Even brief periods of stress have been shown to alter the gut microbiota. Stress can lead to changes in both the numbers and types of bacteria. Communication between the gut and the brain are shockingly intertwined. The calmer and more balanced things are in the gut the more positive mental health outcomes tends to be. For me, things like meditation, taking time for self-care and movement help to keep stressors at bay which help to benefit my overall gut health.

4. Limit your intake of artificial sweeteners:

Some evidence has shown that artificial sweeteners like aspartame increase blood sugar by stimulating the growth of unhealthy bacteria.

5. Eat prebiotic foods:

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria. To simplify, you are feeding the healthy gut bacteria by incorporating prebiotic foods. To start, try increasing your intake of dietary fiber is a simple way to increase your intake of prebiotics. Prebiotic-rich foods include asparagus, artichokes, onions, garlic, apples, cabbage, beans, bananas, flaxseeds and more. Eating foods rich in polyphenols also stimulate healthy bacteria growth in the microbiome. Ployphenols are plant compounds found in things like berries, matcha, olive oil and dark chocolate (opt for 85% cocoa content or higher - ensure chocolate is free of emulsifiers, make sure it hasn’t been processed with alkali, choose organic). My go to brand for high quality dark chocolate is Fine & Raw out of Brooklyn. They are super tasty and the packaging is super cute.

6. Take a probiotic supplement:

When you take a high quality probiotic you support digestive health, skin health, heart health, gut immune function, energy, mood and more. More importantly by taking a probiotic through a supplement it allow you to be more targeted having more control over the specific strains you ingest. Supplements also provide more probiotic diversity. Many probiotics are both allergen- free and sweetener-free so they
can fit into anyone’s diet. Its important to select a trustworthy and well-researched probiotic supplement as not all are created equal. My favorite is Seed a probiotic + prebiotic that offers 24 strain probiotic blend. It’s important that your probiotic gets where it needs to go
to perform certain functions.The prebiotic outer capsule was created to ensure that the bacteria make it to your gut. Use My Code Bean15 for 15% off your order of this high quality probiotic.

7. Take antibiotics only when necessary:

This is effective when you’re sick and need help ridding yourself of bad bacteria. In accomplishing this antibiotics kill the bad and good bacteria in the gut microbiome, so taking a probiotic and eating probiotic rich foods is especially important when taking an antibiotic. So remember to give your gut a little extra love following such a treatment. 

Let’s bring some harmony back to your mind, body and skin with the power of probiotics!


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I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals.

Learn more about my training and my unique approach to health coaching on my website and follow me on Instagram.
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