Gut Health
Share this article
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on email

What You Should Know About the Gut Microbiome and Your Health

You may or may not know that you have nearly 100 trillion microorganisms living in your gut. With nearly 200 species found in the average individual, your gut microflora is a diverse population of beneficial bugs, including bacteria and yeast, that help support healthy immune system functioning.

Antibiotics, pesticides, prescriptions, and lifestyle factors like diet and stress can all impact the microflora negatively. Damaged microflora are thought to be implicated in a number of illnesses, like obesity, heart disease, cancer, eczema, and even depression.

Because of this growing knowledge, it’s more important than ever to take an active role in maintaining a healthy gut flora. This can help preserve normal and healthy immune function and keep the body in balance.

Here, we’ll go over the basics of the gut biome, from what can help to what can hurt – and why it’s all important.

Function of the gut microbiome

The many organisms that live in the gut together play an important role in maintaining our health. These bacteria and yeast stimulate the immune system, play a role in digestion, and also help synthesize vitamins like B vitamins and vitamin K.

The microbiota help digest complex carbohydrates, creating short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids are themselves important for supporting health. They can be used as a source of energy, and are also believed to help prevent chronic disease.

A healthy microbiome may also help protect you against foodborne illness, helping the body to resist colonization by pathogenic organisms.

When the microbiome is damaged – meaning a decrease in the number of bacteria, bacterial diversity, and/or colonization with pathogenic bacteria – these important functions can start to break down. Most notably, a damaged microbiome can impair the normal functioning of the immune system. This is thought to explain the link between abnormal microflora and chronic disease, and it highlights why it’s so important to support the microbiome.

What can harm the microbiome

Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle can make it difficult to maintain a healthy microbiome. Our highly-processed diets, high-stress lifestyles, and sedentary activity levels can all contribute to microbiome impairment. Even a course of antibiotics or taking other commonly-prescribed medications may negatively impact the gut flora.

Though there are many ways the microbiome can be damaged, a healthy microbiome can be restored, too. The good news is that there are simple things you can do to help support your microbiome in spite of the constant stressors in our modern lifestyles.

How to support your gut microbiome

Here are some of the best changes you can make to help improve your gut health.

Take a probiotic

Probiotics are supplements containing live microorganisms. Studies have shown that probiotic supplements can support the colonization of the gut with beneficial microbes and support the restoration of a healthy gut flora.

In particular, it’s a good idea to take a probiotic if you’ve been prescribed antibiotics, but remember to take them at least a few hours away from the antibiotic so they don’t get killed off.

Eat fibre-rich foods

The bacteria in your gut feed on fibre, so eating foods rich in fibre can help support the gut.

According to a 2021 review on fibre and the gut microbiota, “evidence suggests that increased dietary fibre consumption can positively influence metabolic health by altering the gut microbiota.”

Health Canada lists the following foods as high-fibre options:

Health Canada suggests 25 grams of fibre per day for women and 38 grams per day for men, however, they note that most Canadians are only getting about half of the recommended amount.
Consulting with a dietitian can be particularly helpful if you’re having difficulty meeting your recommended daily fibre intake. They can assist you in developing a tailored plan and offer insights on how to establish a nutritious diet and lifestyle.

Eat fermented foods

Fermented foods are foods that have been partially broken down by microorganisms like yeast and bacteria. When left raw and unpasteurized, these foods contain beneficial microorganisms that can contribute to a healthy gut. Some examples of fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, kefir, and yogurt.

Generally, fermented foods contain lactic acid bacteria, including the common probiotic species Lactobacilli. Lactobacilli form part of a healthy human flora, and are often found in the gut, skin, and vaginal microflora.

Interested in learning how to enjoy eating while setting healthy eating goals? Check out our post on tips for guilt free eating.


The gut microbiome plays a number of important roles in supporting health, from maintaining a healthy immune response, to aiding with digestion, to synthesizing vitamins. Alterations in the microbiome have been linked to a number of chronic diseases and health problems, including heart disease, obesity, depression, eczema, autoimmune illness, and cancer. There are many ways the microbiome can be damaged, whether it’s from a poor diet, low physical activity, stress, antibiotics, or other prescription medications. But with just a few simple changes like eating more fibre, taking a probiotic, and eating more fermented foods, you can help support your intestinal microbiome and enjoy the health benefits associated with a balanced biome.

If you feel you need to talk to a professional to help you accomplish your health goals, search on Medimap for a professional that can help.

About the author

Shereen Photo

Shereen Mohammed

Shereen is a passionate marketing professional with over 7 years of experience in executing traditional and digital marketing strategies across diverse industries. With a background in both agency and client-side roles, Shereen has successfully implemented effective marketing campaigns that have yielded a positive return on investment. As an energetic individual, Shereen possesses strong organizational and communication skills, ensuring seamless team coordination and collaboration. She thrives in process-driven environments, paying meticulous attention to detail while remaining focused on achieving results. With a proven ability to manage multiple projects in competitive and fast-paced settings, she is dedicated to driving success through strategic marketing initiatives.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close Bitnami banner
Close Bitnami banner