Emeran Mayer, M.D., is a professor of medicine at UCLA and one of the world's leading experts on the relationship between the microbiome and the brain. In this adapted excerpt from his new book, The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health (Harper Wave), Dr. Mayer explains how to optimize your microbiome for total health.
As we rapidly untangle the complex chemical conversations between microbes, the gut, and the nervous system, we're also extracting valuable information about how to apply this knowledge to improve people's health.
Down the road, if we could assess a person's gut microbial landscape and signaling molecules generated in this system, we could determine his or her vulnerability to antibiotics, stress, diet, and other destabilizing factors and design personalized treatments. Microbiologists and CEOs of startup companies are already busy mining the human gut microbiome for novel therapies, using new computational tools. But this may prove more difficult than they think.
In the meantime, there are approaches that anyone can take today without spending a lot of money. In a recent Science article, Jonas Schluter and Kevin Foster of the University of Oxford propose that we act as "ecosystem engineers" and manipulate general, system-wide properties of microbial communities to our benefit.
How can we do this? Here are the best research-backed ways to improve your microbiome for overall health: