6 Lifestyle Habits Affecting Your Preconception Gut Health

What Is The Gut Microbiome?

The microbiome is the diverse population of bacteria that live both on and inside your body, including your skin, gut and vagina. These bacterial cells actually outnumber our body’s own cells and contribute to our health.

The gut microbiome contains trillions of microbes, and its composition can significantly affect your health. It helps maintain a healthy immune system, good digestion, endocrine system, metabolism and more.

The health of your gut microbiome can significantly affect pregnancy, which is why it’s essential to understand how to nourish yourself when planning a pregnancy.

Why Is Gut Health Important?

Your gut health affects everyday life, and most of the time, we’re usually not proactive enough about improving it.

It’s tempting to think that a single event causes all the good or harm in our lives, but the truth is that everyday habits can either make us vulnerable, or make us stronger.

When your microbiome is in good condition, diverse, healthy bacteria can flourish. This will lead to fewer food intolerances, less bloating and constipation, better digestion and nutrient absorption.

In short, you’ll feel much happier and healthier.

Why Should You Improve Your Gut Health For Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is an excellent example of how natural changes to the microbiome can significantly impact your overall health.

The gut microbiome has been connected to pregnancy complications including:-

  • Preterm birth
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Weight Gain
  • Preeclampsia
  • Your Baby’s Future health

You may also be surprised to know that a healthy, nourished gut can help reduce common pregnancy symptoms, including:-

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Reflux
  • Skin blemishes
  • Morning sickness
  • Mood swings

We know that the composition of the gut microbiota changes dramatically from the first to the third trimester, which is why optimising gut health before pregnancy can help you enjoy pregnancy to the fullest.

A healthier gut means that you can experience a happier and healthier pregnancy journey. It will also help you to gift your baby with a healthy microbiome and a future of health.

Can Preconception Probiotic Supplements Help?

It’s frequently thought that a probiotic is all that’s needed to improve gut health.

But, the reality is that even if you diligently take a probiotic supplement every day, it doesn’t mean that your gut will stay healthy.

Nutrition and lifestyle habits can undo the positive effects these supplements offer. This is why it’s essential to focus on gut diversity as much as possible.

Let’s look at the things you should be careful about to have better gut health…

6 Lifestyle Habits To Avoid To Prevent Gut Dysbiosis

When the microbiome is out of balance, this can result in dysbiosis. Dysbiosis can be linked to chronic and inflammatory diseases such as insulin resistance, weight gain, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease etc.

This is why it’s necessary to ensure that your gut bacteria are as diverse & healthy as possible before pregnancy.

Habits are powerful! They can help build resilience and a healthy microbiome, but they can also be our undoing – here’s six to avoid to maximise your chances of a healthy gut microbiome…

1. Not having enough variety in your diet.

A varied whole foods diet is essential for a healthy microbiome. A diet rich in whole foods has many nutrients to help nourish different types of bacteria, leading to gut diversity.

The American Gut Project has found some exciting changes to our microbiomes related to what we eat. They discovered that people who ate at least 30 different plant-based foods every week had more diverse gut bacteria than those who consumed less than 10.

2. Not including prebiotic-rich foods

Prebiotics feed the probiotics! Prebiotics are the kind of nutrients that promote the growth of probiotic bacteria. They’re typically found in high fibre plant-based foods like whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes.

3. Overuse of antibiotics

Antibiotics are often prescribed as a course of treatment for various ailments. But, as scientists understand the gut microbiome better, they’ve seen a connection between an imbalance in gut health and the overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics are vital, but their overuse can have unintended consequences for gut health.

4. Not getting enough sleep

Getting the right amount of sleep every night is necessary for optimal gut health. And growing evidence suggests that the gut microbiome can influence sleep quality.

Despite being a relatively new area of research, we have now realised that not sleeping enough can affect your gut bacteria. We also know that gut health can play a role in how well we sleep, so it’s a two-way street.

Poor sleep and not enough sleep can also lead to a build-up of stress!

5. Too much stress

Stress is a known trigger for gut dysbiosis, and it can affect your health in a few different ways.

Studies have shown that chronic stress causes an increase in gut permeability, commonly known as “leaky gut”, it suppresses the immune system and increases inflammation throughout the body.

These conditions create an environment that favours the overgrowth of pathogens in the gut. This can lead to nausea, bloating, and diarrhoea—pregnancy can worsen these symptoms. 

6. Not enough movement

Movement is an integral part of physical health! If exercise was not enough incentive for you, now there’s this; exercise can change the composition of your gut microbiome.

Research has found that exercise can boost the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Your body makes short-chain fatty acids by processing fibre during digestion, and they benefit your body by helping to reduce inflammation.

Why Should You Have A Healthy Gut Microbiome When You’re Planning To Have A Baby?

One of the best gifts a mother can give her newborn baby is a balanced, healthy, diverse microbiome. The most efficient way to do this is through nutrition and lifestyle before and during pregnancy.

The foods you eat before and during pregnancy will shape the bacteria in your gut and your baby’s health and well-being in the first 18 months of life.

Your gut health both before and during pregnancy can impact your baby’s future health. Comment if you prioritised your gut health when you were planning your pregnancy.

Ready to know the essentials for when you’re planning a pregnancy for both you and your baby? Download my FREE guide, Planning Your Future Pregnancy.

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