Radiate Wellness Logo

Cooking For Your Microbiome

Mar 28, 2022

When you think about the microbiome, it’s important to understand that you can literally change the whole makeup of the gut within 24 hours by just changing your diet. If you are on a high sugar and high carbohydrate diet, within 24 hours of dropping those carbohydrates and dropping those sugars from the diet, you could see major shifts in your microbial makeup. It’s an ecosystem, it’s ever-changing, and it’s the most impactful agent of change on your health. There are a lot of things you can do to help better your health, such as making decisions about what kind of lotion you put on your skin or what kind of functional testing you get done. You can also make decisions about how you sleep, how you move, and how you exercise. However, changing the microbiome and feeding the microbiome so it can thrive is going to be the most beneficial thing that you can do for your health.

 The gut is really the root of our health, so when we change the microbiome for the better, we are changing our overall health and giving ourselves a fighting chance against diseases, chronic conditions, and chronic symptoms that could come down the line.  It will also help protect us against infection, and it helps us to produce certain nutrients.

 There is a lot of talk out there today about dysbiosis, and I thought it would be useful to explain what dysbiosis is. You have a ton of microbial critters running around in your gut. In fact, there are millions of billions of microorganisms below the stomach, in your digestive tract. Most of these bacteria are commensal microbes, which means that they have a symbiotic relationship with you. In other words, we have a mutually beneficial relationship with commensal bacteria. When there is dysbiosis, there is an imbalance due to a decrease in the good bacteria in the gut and an increase in the bad bacteria in the gut. This is usually going to have some sort of a negative impact on the health of the host. It is important to point out that it’s not always going to feel like a bad belly or bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. We could have dysbiosis going on in the gut and have skin issues, headaches, migraines, a difficult time concentrating, and even mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

 When it comes to good bacteria, they perform several jobs, but I wanted to distill it down into a few things to concentrate on here. First is the promotion of a mucosal barrier. The mucosal barrier is extremely important. It houses our immune system, and it is also the protector that keeps the gut’s membrane intact so that we’re not having things like a leaky gut or a cracked wall that’s allowing excess permeability from the gut into the rest of the body. Good bacteria also support the colonization of other good bacteria. So, not only are they creating the right ecosystem with that good mucosal layer and immune function, but they’re also supporting more proliferation of other good bacteria in the gut. On top of that, they help us to convert our food into other beneficial products. They create other types of metabolites within the gut and produce short-chain fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and increase our Secretory IgA, our main form of immune defense to protect us against toxins.

 There are many kinds of good bacteria and bad bacteria. The bad bacteria produce what are called pro-inflammatory lipopolysaccharides. They form and breed more inflammation in the gut, increasing gut permeability. They also encourage the overgrowth of other opportunistic and pro-inflammatory bacteria. In other words, good bacteria promote more good bacteria, and bad bacteria promote more bad bacteria. Bad bacteria wreck the ecosystem so that good bacteria are not able to proliferate. If we have an overgrowth of bad bacteria, it starts to decrease our good bacteria and we can slide down that slippery slope.

 There are three main types of dysfunctions that can happen in dysbiosis. There is insufficient dysbiosis, which means that there’s an overall depletion of bacteria and a population issue going on. There’s sometimes also hyperpermeability in the gut, also known as leaky gut, which down-regulates Secretory IgA or compromises immune function. We can find this on our preferred stool test. The bad bacteria are wreaking a lot of havoc because there’s not a lot of good bacteria or normal flora in the gut to fight them off. Overall, there’s a deficiency or insufficiency of bacteria. The second type, inflammatory dysbiosis, is when we have the presence of a lot of these pro-inflammatory pathogens, such as elevated normal flora and opportunistic organisms. This means we are not dealing with an insufficient number of bacteria, but dealing with an elevated amount of bacteria, as well as a pro-inflammatory environment in the gut. None of these are worse or better than the other and they all have their own kind of signs and symptoms. There might be low stomach acid or low bile production, or low pancreatic enzyme production going on and a reduction in absorption. In this case, you’ll see a lot of undigested food in the stool. Over time when the digestive system has stopped functioning appropriately, it contributes to digestive dysfunction and dysbiosis.

 For any of the above-mentioned patterns of dysfunction, we want to include prebiotic fibers that come from vegetables in the diet. These fibers create short-chain fatty acids, which improve our intestinal permeability, our immune function, and the bioavailability or breakdown of minerals in the diet. Prebiotics are extremely important for enhancing our digestive function.

 The second important type of food when talking about eating for microbiome is polyphenols. These come from plants and are very helpful in the body. They can decrease blood pressure, decrease inflammation, and help keep our cholesterol levels in balance. They are part of our plant intake that does not break down or do not get absorbed very well in the gut, so they make their way down to the colon, where they become food or fuel for the gut bacteria. Here is a list of some of the most important foods containing polyphenols: onions, alliums, spinach, artichokes, nuts, certain types of fruits, spices, and pomegranates.

 Foods we want to decrease are sugars, artificial sweeteners, as well as some of our root vegetables, which are very big sugar storers. This doesn’t mean that we have to remove them out of the diet altogether, but we do want to recognize that they feed the opportunistic or pathogenic bacteria. We want to have them in balance with our above-ground vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and vegetables that are high in the polyphenols and prebiotic fiber. We also want to decrease processed and packaged foods as much as possible, staying with a whole foods diet.

 The microbiome influences so many aspects of our health, either for better or for worse. I hope you feel empowered to take control of your health, starting with your microbiome, by intentionally incorporating or limiting certain foods. If you feel that your gut, or any other body system, needs more personalized help, I encourage you to reach out to us at Radiate Wellness and book a Strategy Session with one of our team members. We would love to help you maximize your health and support your microbiome through personalized functional nutrition!



Hi, I’m Frankie
Becoming a Functional Nutritionist was born out of my love of working in women’s health and my own health crisis that hit in 2011. It was then that I realized that the body cannot be taken for granted. With two cancer scares in one year, I decided to take my health into my own hands, guided by the intelligence of functional medicine. As a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, I use data and mindfulness techniques to motivate change. My client relationships are filled with loving connections and precise planning.

Keep In Touch

Top Posts

Advocating For Your Health

For many women, chronic symptoms send us spiraling into a state of overwhelm. We frantically search for answers for something that is going to make it better or help it make sense. In this state, we are far from ourselves - hysterical and desperate. Shock and fear can...

Health Care Gaps

How often have you gone to the doctor for a health concern only to be dismissed or told that what you are feeling is inaccurate? In an age where the average medical appointment is 15 minutes at best, how is a doctor able to listen to what is the concern, diagnose, and...

Unpacking Metabolism

Unpacking metabolism is a topic that is a common thread for so many of us whether we are dealing with fatigue, weight issues, digestive issues, or even hormonal issues. It is incredible how much we can have different symptoms across the board but metabolism is still...

Summer Reset

Happy summertime to you! Though I know some folks have been feeling the summer temperatures for a while, there is something about June that makes the summer season start to feel more legit. Like it is here and you better get ready for all it has to offer! That is...

Stress and Blood Glucose Levels

Do you know of any friends or family who has diabetes or pre-diabetes? I bet most people reading this know of at least one because that is how prevalent it is. Today, one in ten U.S. adults has diabetes, and if trends continue, one in five will have it by 2025. An...

Managing Cortisol’s Ups and Downs

Cortisol gets a bad rap most of the time. Everyone wants to talk about the negatives of what cortisol does, but what often doesn't get the recognition is the benefits that cortisol has for our body. Today I want to highlight both sides of the stress story so that when...

Gut-Brain Connection

Have you ever found yourself saying you have a “gut feeling” about something? Or maybe you’ve experienced “butterflies in your stomach”? These common phrases actually have some basis in science and help showcase the connection between our gut and our brain....

Put Yourself In The Driver’s Seat

Put yourself in the driver's seat when it comes to stress. Understanding stress is the first important step to dealing with it. Many of us think stress happens to us, similar to the quote, “Life is happening to me.” Flip the script and put it another way; life is...

How To Own Your Health Because It Belongs To You

How can you own your health? You're responsible for it, so why not own it? This message is getting lost in the slew of things that are going on in the world right now. It can feel like a place full of a lot of fear where we can feel paralyzed as to what to do. And...

Ready For A New Approach To Your Healthcare?

Have you ever felt discouraged leaving a doctor’s appointment? Maybe you felt bothered by the lack of time a doctor spent in the room with you, or perhaps you didn’t feel heard because the nurses and physicians were rushing through the appointment, talking at you, and...
Call Now Button