Healthy gut bacteria or intestinal microbiome are essential and critical to our health. Simply put, they keep the doctor away! As you read this blog, thousands of bacteria inside your belly are fighting for power and control. If the good bacteria are victorious, your digestive system functions more efficiently and your body is better prepared to fend off diseases and possibly shed pounds. Research has shown gut bacteria to be linked with diabetes, obesity, Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. But a healthy gut helps you:
- improve immune function
- fight allergies
- reduce depression
- fight colon cancer risk
- treat diarrhea
According to WebMD, “Bacteria line your intestines and help you digest food. During digestion, they make vitamins that are vital for life, send signals to the immune system, and make small molecules that can help your brain work.”
In order to achieve gut health, diet is key. When choosing food products, look for “live and active cultures” on the label. But be cautious of the amount of sugar, especially with fruit yogurts. Aim for fewer than 15 grams of sugar per serving. Try Greek yogurt or Kefir, a dairy drink packed with beneficial bugs. When it comes to healthy gut bacteria, probiotics are your friend. You can also take probiotic supplements, which are convenient if you are traveling. Supplements are also less time consuming since they do not require any cooking. Please consult with your physician before choosing the most appropriate supplement.
Don’t forget to load up on fiber. High-fiber foods such as avocados, berries and high-fiber snack bars produce anti-inflammatory bacteria. In general, pursue plant-based foods such as:
Skip refined carbohydrates. Foods high in fat and sugar cause bad bacteria growth. Instead of potato chips, chow down some blueberries or celery sticks. In addition, diets that consume a good amount of cheese and meat, produce Bilophilia, a type of bacteria linked to inflammation so try to limit your red meat intake to about once a week. Other things that damage gut bacteria include antibiotics and highly chlorinated water.
To restore good bacteria, create acidity to promote the growth of certain bacteria such as Lactobacillus. Eat fermented foods such as cottage cheese and whey. For good bacteria to dominate, diverse gut microbiome are needed. It also helps to consume a more varied diet. If yesterday you had a chicken salad, try a spinach or kale salad tonight. Never underestimate the benefits of exercise. A recent study showed athletes had more diversified intestinal microbiome than non-athletes.
There has been a tremendous amount of research on microbiota due to its significant role for achieving optimal health. One study suggests that certain gut bacteria may be connected to the body’s processing of oxygen. Scientists also saw extreme bacteria variation from one individual to another and agree they need to learn more about the wide array of bacteria that live inside the intestines. However, more research on gut bacteria is needed to further solidify such findings.