In Short Heres How To Have A Healthy Gut
Never to underestimate the importance of gut health when it comes to your body and wellbeing. Its home to trillions of bacteria, not to mention actual human cells, that work hard to keep you fit and well. Your lifestyle can have a serious impact on this balance.
Making simple positive changes like more fiber in your diet, more exercise, and less unnecessary medication is how to get a healthy gut and wholesome gut microbiome. Just remember, you really do have the power to change, one step at a time.
Eat Fermented Foods That Have Beneficial Bacteria
Weve all heard about eating more yogurt for our gut health, but have we learned about eating more fermented foods?
These foods have more good bacteria to improve your belly. They contain a high count of lactobacilli bacteria, which are beneficial. They are also the ones that convert sugar to acids and alcohols:
Avoid Taking Certain Medications Long Term
Sometimes, taking antibiotics is unavoidable, notes Dr. Cresci.
But antibiotics will destroy the pathogens and attack the good microbes in the gut, too, she adds.
Dr. Cresci also warns against taking over-the-counter acid-reducing agents long-term.
By doing so, you elevate the pH in your stomach, she says. That allows any ingested pathogens to have a better chance to survive, which can alter the microbiome.
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The Checklist: How To Improve Your Microbiome
Through food and supplementation, we can improve the variety of bacterial species in the microbiome, which can have far-reaching health benefits. Consuming a diet of whole, unprocessed food while providing pro- and prebiotic support can help build, repair and/or maintain the gut microbiome.
Include whole grains, celery, fruit with edible seeds, and root vegetables, along with other insoluble fiber sources17 Include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and/or yogurt in your diet, along with other fermented foods Include plenty of vegetables in your diet theyre often fiber sources, and polyphenols are found in them Include fruits, cereal grains, tea, coffee, dark chocolate, cocoa powder and/or wine, to consume polyphenols Supplement with probiotic or prebiotic supplements when needed, such as with a prebiotic supplement containing 2-FL Exercise regularly with physical activityAvoid smoking or drinking excess amounts of alcohol Avoid over-using antibiotics only use antibiotics according to a healthcare practitioners prescription to treat bacterial infections
Include beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds in your diet, along with other soluble fiber sources16
Friday 26 August 2022
Trillions of microorganisms live in your gut, mostly bacteria, but also viruses, yeasts, fungi, and parasites.
There are at least as many bugsliving in you as the number of cells in your body, maybe more. You could say that youre made up of at least half bug.
Known as your gut microbiome, these microbes play a vital role in how you digest food and absorb nutrients, and influence your metabolism, body weight, immune system, and general health.
But they also influence your brain function. Research reveals that this brain-gut axis is a two-way streetthere is bi-directional communication between your brain and your gut.
Hormones, neurotransmitters, and immune system factors released by the gut send signals to your brain directly or via autonomic nervous system neurons. This is your gut talking to your brain and nervous system.
Your bug half seems to get a say in matters of both body and mind.
When things go wrong in your gut microbiome, there is evidence that it can affect your mood and may be linked to anxiety and depression.
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What Is The Gut Microbiome
You may think your gut microbiome is in your stomach, but its located in your large and small intestines.
It contains all the microbes that reside within our intestinal tract, says Dr. Cresci. And those microbes are comprised of bacteria, fungi, yeast and viruses.
And were not talking about a few hundred microbes its estimated that about 100 trillion microbes are found inside the human body, with many of them residing in our gut.
As you ingest food, the gastric acid found in your stomach destroys a lot of the pathogens you consume.
We are consuming microbes all the time through our food and water, says Dr. Cresci. But the ones that escape that gastric acid then move down to your intestinal tract.
The goal is to have a healthy gut microbiome. Factors like your diet, infections and certain medications can affect its balance. Having an unhealthy gut microbiome can lead to certain diseases and affect your mental health.
Does All Disease Begin In Your Gut The Surprising Truth
More than 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates the father of modern medicine suggested that all disease begins in the gut.
While some of his wisdom has stood the test of time, you may wonder whether he was right in this regard.
This article tells you all you need to know about the connection between your gut and disease risk.
Though Hippocrates was incorrect in suggesting that all disease begins in your gut, evidence shows that many chronic metabolic diseases do.
Your gut bacteria and the integrity of your gut lining strongly affect your health. .
According to numerous studies, undesirable bacterial products called endotoxins can sometimes leak through your gut lining and enter your bloodstream (
Some hypothesize that this diet-induced inflammation may trigger insulin and leptin resistance driving factors for type 2 diabetes and obesity, respectively. Its also believed to cause fatty liver disease.
At the very least, inflammation has been strongly linked to many of the worlds most serious conditions (
Nonetheless, keep in mind that this area of research is rapidly developing, and current theories may be overhauled in the future.
Though not all disease begins in the gut, many chronic metabolic conditions are hypothesized to be caused or influenced by chronic gut inflammation.
Inflammation is your immune systems response to foreign invaders, toxins, or cell injury.
Still, the exact causes of chronic inflammation are currently unknown.
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The Microbes In Your Gut Can Influence Mental Health Heart Risk Weight Gain And Even Sleep Which Is Why You Need To Eat A Wider Variety Of Quality Food
Every time you eat, you are feeding trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live inside your gut. But are you feeding them the right foods?
Scientists used to know very little about these communities of microbes that collectively make up the gut microbiota, also known as your gut microbiome. But a growing body of research suggests that these vast communities of microbes are the gateway to your health and well-being and that one of the simplest and most powerful ways to shape and nurture them is through your diet.
Studies show that our gut microbes transform the foods we eat into thousands of enzymes, hormones, vitamins and other metabolites that influence everything from your mental health and immune system to your likelihood of gaining weight and developing chronic diseases.
Gut bacteria can even affect your mental state by producing mood-altering neurotransmitters like dopamine, which regulates pleasure, learning and motivation, and serotonin, which plays a role in happiness, appetite and sexual desire. Some recent studies suggest that the composition of your gut microbiome can even play a role in how well you sleep.
But the wrong mix of microbes can churn out chemicals that flood your bloodstream and build plaque in your coronary arteries. The hormones they produce can influence your appetite, blood sugar levels, inflammation and your risk of developing obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Probiotic & Prebiotic Supplements Can Support A Healthy Gut Microbiome
Probiotics are live microorganisms that positively impact our gut microbiome and, as a result, our general well-being. They can be found in fermented foods, like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, or nutritional supplements. Probiotics support a healthy gut microbiome first and foremost by simply increasing the number of bacteria that are present. Increasing bacterial populations in the intestines may help to balance the composition of the gut microbiome.
Probiotic supplementation is also associated with supporting the integrity of the intestinal barrier and regulating cytokine production. Cytokines are chemical messengers of the immune system that play a role in the immune response.8 Probiotics support this process by increasing the production of cytokines associated with lowering inflammation and decreasing production of those that promote inflammation.
Like probiotics, prebiotics can be consumed either as food in the diet or as nutritional supplements. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not live organisms instead, they provide nourishment for live organisms.
Prebiotics are unique sources of energy for gut microbiota because they are able to avoid being digested in the GI tract so they can arrive undigested in time for dinner for gut microbiota. Types of prebiotics include:
^To date, shown in multiple animal studies, infants, and one adult human study.
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Tips To Boost Your Gut Microbiome
Your gut microbiome is a vast community of trillions of bacteria and fungi that inhabit every nook and cranny of your gastrointestinal tract, and have a major influence on your metabolism, body weight, propensity to illness, immune system, appetite and mood. These microbes mostly live in your lower intestine and outnumber all the other cells in your body put together.
Conceptually, we should view these microbes as a newly discovered organ, weighing slightly more than our brains and nearly as vital. There are some organs we can live without, including our spleen, gall bladder, tonsils and appendix, but we wouldnt survive long without our gut microbes. Intriguingly, no two microbiomes are the same we are all unique. And more than ever, were finding out just how important these microbes are.
Read more about the microbiome:
According to research, the richer and more diverse the community of gut microbes are, the lower your risk of disease and allergies. This has been shown in animal tests and also in human studies comparing the microbes of people with and without particular diseases. Examples from recent work at Kings College London include studies of diabetes, obesity, allergy and inflammatory diseases like colitis and arthritis.
Meanwhile, there is mounting evidence that babies born via caesarean section miss out on some of the microbes they would obtain through a vaginal birth, which may make them more vulnerable to allergies and asthma.
The Gut Microbiome May Affect Your Weight
There are thousands of different types of bacteria in your intestines, most of which benefit your health.
However, having too many unhealthy microbes can lead to disease.
An imbalance of healthy and unhealthy microbes is sometimes called gut dysbiosis, and it may contribute to weight gain .
Several well-known studies have shown that the gut microbiome differed completely between identical twins, one of whom was obese and one of whom was healthy. This demonstrated that differences in the microbiome were not genetic .
Interestingly, in one study, when the microbiome from the obese twin was transferred to mice, they gained more weight those that had received the microbiome of the lean twin, despite both groups eating the same diet .
These studies show that microbiome dysbiosis may play a role in weight gain.
Fortunately, probiotics are good for a healthy microbiome and can help with weight loss. Nevertheless, studies suggest that the effects of probiotics on weight loss are probably quite small, with people losing less than 2.2 pounds .
Gut dysbiosis may lead to weight gain, but probiotics can potentially restore gut health and help reduce weight.
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Ways To Improve Your Gut Bacteria Based On Science
There are around 40 trillion bacteria in your body, most of which are found in your gut.
Collectively, they are known as your gut microbiome, and theyre incredibly important for overall health. However, certain types of bacteria in your intestines can also contribute to many diseases.
Many factors, including the foods you eat, can impact the type of bacteria found in your digestive tract.
Here are 9 science-based ways to improve your gut bacteria.
Fluffy Buckwheat Chia Pancake
Studies show that those who eat a variety of whole grains have more diverse bacteria in their guts, which may lead to better health. Swap out traditional pancakes with these nutty and fluffy buckwheat chia pancakes and enjoy fiber-fueled nutrition with each bite. Word has it that your gut will thank you!
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How We Vetted This Article:
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
May 11, 2021
Healthlines content is created, fact-checked, and reviewed by qualified writers, editors, clinicians, and other contributors.
Amy Richter, RD
Amy Richter is a registered dietitian who specializes in skin conditions and gut health. She owns The Acne Dietitian, a blog and private practice dedicated toRead full bio
Arlene Semeco, MS, RD
Your Genes Dont Matter But Your Gut Microbiomes Genes Do
As a society, we have been quick to place the blame for everything from our weight to our moods on our genes. We say things like She can drink wine and eat chocolate every day and not gain weight because she is French. The truth is human beings all have similar DNA. So why is it that some people are healthy when they consume chocolate every day while others maintain a strict Paleo diet and struggle with digestive symptoms or worse? Its because, unlike our genes, our microbiomes genes are vastly different.
The good news is that you can change your gut microbiome. You see, the average lifespan of a bacterium in your microbiome is 20 minutes! So, you have the opportunity every time you eat to begin to change the population of your gut microbiome. This is good news because it means that rather than having to subscribe to theories such as the Paleo diet, which assumes our genes evolve so slowly that we all need to eat like cavemen, we can begin to change our gut microbiome one meal at a time and even achieve a healthy gut very quickly.
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If you take your dog for a walk every day, youre likely already a few steps ahead of the game when it comes to a healthy gut microbiome. Turns out there are a few simple, fun ways to get those good gut bacteria working overtime lets find out how.
Our gut microbiome is a complex structure made up of trillions of bacteria which influence the health of our whole body, from head to toe. Youre probably aware of the influence food can have on this microbial balance with research proving high-sugar diets throw this balance out of whack and lower microbial diversity, thereby putting us at risk for inflammation and disease check out this article for a refresher on the microbiome and our diet. But there are a few other surprisingly simple techniques to guarantee a robust gut microbiome and youll find theyre pretty easy to slot into your everyday life.
Getting a good nights sleep
So, if youve been procrastinating about calling up your old friends, nows the time to pick up the phone and schedule that D& M sesh! Kill two birds with one stone and get outdoors for a good dose of vitamin D. Take you friends or relatives to the beach, for a picnic in the park or take a peaceful walk through a bush track or reserve for an unexpected gut health-boost.
Spending time with pets
There are a few ways to get your dose of oxytocin, even if you dont have pets of your own to spend time with:
Restoring Balance In The Gut Microbiome Naturally
The state of dysbiosis, when the various bacteria in the microbiome are no longer living in harmony, includes a myriad of human complaints, including gastric upset,inflammatory bowel disease , metabolic syndrome, obesity, and even depression. What causes an unhealthy microbiome? A growing body of evidence highlights the impact processed food, over-production of antibiotics and medication and industrial farming has on a healthy microbiome. This collective input damages the diversity of the human microbiome. As an example, research shows that early-in-life use of antibiotics disturbs the microbiome and is associated with the development of asthma in children. In general, antibiotic use is one suspected cause for autoimmune ailments.
The Standard American Diet , defined as highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates and added sugars, hydrogenated and saturated fats and red meat, interferes with a balanced microbiome . Another less than healthy habit that affects the microbiome is excessive drinking.
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Probiotics Are Your Guts Best Friend
Probiotics are chock-full of live bacteria that will help ensure your gut is populated by mostly the good types of microbes. You can get a good probiotic supplement at your local health food store, however, make sure you ask your doctor what strains of cultures are best for you, as each persons microbiome is different. There are many probiotic products out there that claim to have live cultures but do not, so it is important to do your research beforehand. For example, Align is a great brand of probiotic for people who suffer from IBS.
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