We have really just started learning the details of the gut flora and how it influences our health, how we feel and how well we function. The one thing that researchers agree on is diversity is important - the more varied and diverse your gut ecology the better your health, even when there are some badies, such as parasites and candida.
So how do we diversify? Unfortunately its not just about popping a wide range of probiotic's - although that helps.
The microbes in the gut need to be fed well and they love a diverse range of multi-coloured vegetables and fruit, especially when they are organic and don't have a cocktail of chemicals. This provides a wide range of fibers and polyphenols which feed our microbes. Having raw vegetables also introduces microbes as healthy produce is covered in them, especially if organic and they haven't been sitting in the supermarket for weeks. There are also organisms that feed on collagen and other nutrients from bone broth.
Getting back into nature and actually getting dirty seems to support diversity by exposing us to a wide range of organisms. If you can't get into the bush regularly, organic gardening is another way to get dirty and intimate with the microbial world.
Exercise has been clearly shown to improve diversity of gut flora - no-one really knows why but it seems to work! It doesn't seem to matter what type of exercise, more importantly that you don't under or over exercise...listen to your body and what it needs and loves, and invest in a good trainer if you don't have an established exercise rhythm.
Eating a wide range of fermented foods and a variety of probiotic supplements also supports our microbiome and can encourage diversity if varied.
It is an exciting time as a clinician to be involved in the gut flora as the new DNA methods of testing become widely available and we learn more about its impact on health.