Seasonal Shifts: How Changing Seasons Impact Your Microbiome

A bowl of soup set on a lovely table.

As we officially welcome in the fall season, our bodies will undergo all sorts of adjustments in order to adapt to the changing environment. Did you know that shifting seasons has an impact on our microbiome?

The Microbiome 101: A Quick Recap

Before we dive into the seasonal changes, let's revisit the basics. Your microbiome is composed of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes. This complex ecosystem resides in your gut, skin, mouth, and entire body, playing a vital role in your overall health and wellness.

What Causes Seasonal Microbiome Shifts

1. Dietary Changes

Foods we eat vary by season which can significantly impact your microbiome. For instance, in summer you may consume more fresh fruits and vegetables, while in the fall and winter, hearty stews and root vegetables might dominate your plate. Apples, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes exchange place with peaches, watermelon, and salad. These dietary shifts can alter the composition of your gut microbiota.

2. Sunlight Exposure

Variations in the strength of sunlight and exposure time can impact vitamin D levels in your body, which, in turn, can influence your microbiome. Sunlight is known to affect the composition of gut bacteria, potentially contributing to seasonal fluctuations in health.

3. Temperature and Activity Levels

Changes in temperature can influence your activity levels and overall lifestyle. A decrease in physical activity during colder months may affect your gut health, as exercise has been linked to a diverse and balanced microbiome.

4. Immune System Responses

The immune system is closely connected to the microbiome. Seasonal fluctuations in temperature and pathogens can affect immune function, which can, in turn, impact the composition of your microbiome. If you end up needing antibiotics, this magnifies the impact negatively.

Tips for Maintaining Microbiome Health Year-Round

1. Diverse Diet

Consume a varied diet throughout the year. Try a a few new foods like purple sweet potatoes, rutabagas, or kabocha squash. Incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables, fermented foods, and high-fiber options into your meals. Soups are microbiome superfoods! (see next section)

2. Stay Active

Don't let colder weather keep you from staying physically active! Invest in some clothing to allow you to walk outdoors year round. Regular exercise can help maintain a healthy microbiome and support your immune system. Low budget? Hit the thrift shops for these items!

3. Sunlight Exposure

Get adequate sunlight exposure, even in the winter, to ensure sufficient vitamin D levels. This can contribute to a healthier microbiome. Think about getting up a little earlier to get that morning sunlight.

4. Probiotics and Prebiotics

Consider incorporating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir, as well as prebiotic foods like garlic and onions, into your diet to support beneficial gut bacteria.

5. Manage Stress

Practice stress management techniques such as breathing exercises, bodyweight movements, or time in nature. Chronic stress can disrupt the balance of your microbiome.

6. Consult a Professional

If you have specific concerns or health conditions, consult a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for personalized guidance on maintaining a healthy microbiome.

Embrace the beauty of changing seasons and also be mindful of the impact these shifts can have on our microbiome. Be kind to yourself! By making conscious choices to support our gut health year-round, we can enhance our overall well-being and enjoy every season to its fullest.


Sign up for updates and free, easy ways to live better now!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Hmm—something went wrong while submitting the form. Try again!