Your Gut Microbiome Plays A Role In Metabolic Health — Here's How To Take Care Of It
Kristine Thomason is the health and fitness director at mindbodygreen.
At mbg, metabolic health is always on our minds—that's especially true this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when optimal total-body health is more important than ever.
For a little refresher, poor metabolic health or metabolic dysfunction refers to "abnormal regulation of our blood sugar and our lipids in our bloodstream, and a state of chronic inflammation," family medicine physician Julie Foucher-Urcuyo, M.D., M.S., said in a recent mindbodygreen podcast episode. Individuals who are metabolically unhealthy run a higher risk of health complications down the line such as stroke, heart attack, heart disease, diabetes, and more. What's more, amid the pandemic, "People who are metabolically unhealthy seem to be more at risk of getting severely ill when they do get infected with the virus," says Foucher-Urcuyo.
So if there was ever a time to turn your attention to metabolic health, it's now. While there's no standard definition of metabolic health in the medical community, experts have highlighted a number of metabolic health markers to consider—Foucher-Urcuyo specifically notes waist circumference, blood pressure, lipid abnormalities, and blood sugar in her mbg podcast episode.
As for ways to take care of your metabolic health? Foucher-Urcuyo shares that managing your stress, getting adequate sleep, and eating a diet of nutritious, high-quality whole foods can help. She also noted one more factor that perked up our ears: "Our gut microbiome plays a role, too," she says, "which is largely influenced by our lifestyle factors."
Of course, since the gut microbiome plays a role in so many elements of our health—from digestion to immunity and even mood—gut health is already a top priority at mbg. So it's reassuring to hear from Foucher-Urcuyo that taking measures to support the microbiome may also be beneficial for metabolic health.
Some of our expert-backed, go-to ways to support gut health include taking a high-quality probiotic supplement with targeted strains; eating fermented foods (kimchi, kefir, miso, yogurt, kombucha) and prebiotic foods (inulin, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, raw asparagus); and managing stress by exercising, spending time in nature, meditating, or connecting with loved ones.
Gut health has an all-encompassing effect on our overall well-being, and we can now add metabolic health to the list of reasons to protect and nourish our microbiome effectively.
Kristine Thomason is the health and fitness director at mindbodygreen. Kristine is a New York University graduate with a degree in journalism and psychology, and also a NASM-certified personal trainer. She has spent her editorial career focused on health and well-being, and formerly worked for Women’s Health and Health. Her byline has also appeared in Men’s Health, Greatist, Refinery29, HGTV, and more. In her current role she oversees, edits, and writes for the health, food, and movement sections of mindbodygreen.