By: Carol Heckman, RN, CNHP, MH, CNC

Your intestinal tract (both the small and large intestines) is home to a large garden of microbes that are vital for mental and physical health. This garden is called the Gut Microbiome.

In years to come, our microbiome may be considered an organ itself. It’s that powerful. Studies are confirming that we’re actually more microbe cells than human; and, each of us has a unique, personal “cloud” of microbes that interact and keep us healthy.

Recently, our sanitized lifestyle and germ-fear has decreased the variety and viability of the good microbes in our gut gardens. The less helpful microbes, the weeds, are taking over. This is profoundly impacting the mental and physical health of all individuals, young and old through increased problems with: allergies, weight management, anxiety, depression, PTSD, brain fog, fatigue, hormone imbalances, auto immune conditions, and cognitive imbalances, to name a few.

What’s affecting your gut? Get an easy checklist to improve your intestinal health…

Microbiome and your health

The millions of microbes in your gut are integral to digesting, absorbing, creating nutrients and eliminating waste. Science has shown these microbes are important in sustaining a healthy immune system by feeding the GALT system (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue).

In addition to intestinal health, the microbiome plays a key role in brain and nervous system wellness – through the Vagus Nerve and the Enteric Nervous System that connects the gut and brain.

Have you ever gotten that gut-feeling? Microbes “tickle” nerve endings that communicate with these nerves and send signals to the brain. The gut microbiome is also key in producing chemicals and neurotransmitters that calm your moods and create emotional wellbeing.

Research is showing how negative-impacts may progressively weaken the microbiome and thus profoundly impact mental and physical health. These negative impacts include:

  • Stress and trauma
  • Inflammation
  • Poor food choices/quality of food
  • Lack of sleep
  • Environmental toxins
  • Antibiotics and other medications

Gut health self-care checklist: 10 tips

How are you tending to your garden? Here are the suggestions I give to all of my clients. If you are not doing these now, start with one thing and build from there.

  1. I take time to chew the food in my mouth to pulp for better digestion.
  2. I eat real foods and limit processed and fast foods.
  3. I eat slowly and until I am 80% full.
  4. I make half of my plate vegetables for the fiber to feed my gut microbes.
  5. I eat fermented foods regularly to feed my gut microbes.
  6. I have a bowel movement every day. (If you experience constipation, try eating apples: an apple a day keeps the doctor away!)
  7. I take a probiotic daily to support healthy gut balance.
  8. I am active, moving my body every day.
  9. I am in bed for a good night’s sleep by 10pm.
  10. I have self-care tools and resources that support me mentally and emotionally to adapt to stress.

For individual guidance, schedule a consultation with me.


Carol is a Registered Nurse, as well as a Certified Natural Health Practitioner, a Master Herbalist, and a Certified Nutritional Consultant.