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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to help us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

The gut microbiome: How does it affect our health?

Published in Lifestyle Health, Digestive Care, For the Health of It Author: Kathleen Mahon, RN, MN, CNP, APHN

We have up to 2 kg. (4.4 lbs.) of microbes in our gut. In fact, we carry around 10 times more microbial cells than human cells. What’s more, two-thirds of the gut microbiome is unique to each individual and it is constantly evolving based in part on decisions we make every day.

How does your gut microbiome influence your health?

Most of us are aware that the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract plays a role in digestion and the production of certain vitamins like B and K. The microbiome also is a major player in immune function. But did you know that 95 percent of serotonin is produced by gut bacteria? The gut-brain connection is a real thing — and it’s a two-way street.

Research investigating the link between the gut microbiome and specific health conditions is a burgeoning field of study that is in its infancy. Several studies have explored the association between the microbiome and weight gain with some suggesting the makeup of our gut bacteria may influence an individual’s propensity for weight gain.

Another hot area of research is the role of the microbiome in not only the development of cancer but also how we recover from it.

Additionally, researchers have linked gut bacteria to mental health. In 2014, a study published in Psychpharmacology found that prebiotics (which feed the good bacteria in the gut) may be effective for reducing stress and anxiety.

The lists goes on.

So, what can you do to make your own microbiome healthier? Make wise lifestyle choices. It’s the best way to improve your microbiome. Yup, back to the basics.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Consider adding fermented foods like sauerkraut and miso — they can increase the level of fermenting bacteria in the gut (that’s a good thing). If you’re not familiar with miso, it’s paste made from fermented soybeans and barley or rice malt, which is used in Japanese cooking.
  2. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables as they contain fibers and sugars that can boost the health of gut bacteria.
  3. Explore some stress management strategies such as yoga, meditation or qigong.
  4. Exercise.
  5. Stop taking unnecessary antibiotics for ailments like colds — they destroy your microbiome and recovery can take months.

Like it or not, we are intimately connected to the microbial world. There is no question that our microbes impact our health in many ways.