If You Can Breastfeed For At Least 6 Months
A babys microbiome begins to properly develop at birth. However, studies suggest that babies may be exposed to some bacteria even before birth .
During the first 2 years of life, an infants microbiome is continuously developing and is rich in beneficial Bifidobacteria, which can digest the sugars found in breast milk .
Many studies have shown that infants who are fed formula have an altered microbiome with fewer Bifidobacteria than infants who are breastfed (
A number of studies have shown that vegetarian diets may benefit the gut microbiome, which may be due to their high fiber content.
For example, one small 2013 study found that a vegetarian diet led to reduced levels of disease-causing bacteria in people with obesity, as well as reductions in body weight, inflammation, and cholesterol levels .
A 2019 review noted that plant foods are rich in specific nutrients that can increase levels of beneficial bacteria and decrease harmful strains of bacteria to support gut health .
However, it is unclear if the benefits of a vegetarian diet on the gut microbiome are due to a lack of meat intake or if other factors may also play a role.
Vegetarian and vegan diets may improve the microbiome. However, it is unclear if the positive effects associated with these diets can be attributed to a lack of meat intake or if other factors may be involved.
Prepare Your Grains & Nuts The Right Way
The vast majority of people and restaurants do not properly prepare their grains and nuts. When you dont prepare your grains or nuts the right way, it results in what most people may consider a food intolerance. In fact, wrong grain preparation may be the reason so many people claim to get digestive issues from grains such as wheat. Personally I have found that my body digests grains much better when I take the time to prepare them ahead of time.
So what is the right way to prepare grains and nuts?
Usually the proper preparation of a grain or nut involves a pre-soak in water. Dr. Weston A. Price, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, discovered that traditional societies who never stepped into the modern world all intuitively did the same thing with their nuts and grains: they always soaked before eating or cooking. To them it was ridiculous to eat a nut or grain without soaking it first.
Nuts, grains, and legumes all contain substances which make it hard for our gut to digest them.
Many grains, for example, contain a substance called phytic acid which prevents the grain from being digested and even steals nutrients before we can absorb them. That means when you eat a whole grain, you are not getting all of the amazing stuff like vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber.
If you want to learn more on this subject, you can check out this article on grain soaking.
Eat Foods Rich In Polyphenols
Polyphenols are plant compounds that have many health benefits, including reductions in blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and oxidative stress .
Human cells cant always digest polyphenols. Because they arent absorbed efficiently, most polyphenols make their way to the colon, where they are digested by gut bacteria (
Polyphenols from cocoa can increase the amount of Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in humans and reduce the quantity of Clostridia .
Furthermore, these changes in the microbiome are associated with lower levels of triglycerides and C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation .
The polyphenols in red wine have similar effects and have even been shown to increase levels of beneficial bacteria in people with metabolic syndrome .
Polyphenols cant be digested efficiently by human cells, but they are efficiently broken down by the gut microbiota. They may improve several health outcomes related to heart disease and inflammation.
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Why Gut Health Is Important
Your gut contains millions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that form a microbiome. In addition, millions of naturally occurring bacteria live within the gut microbiome. These bacteria play a significant part in keeping us healthy by helping the digestive processes and playing a role in the immune system by acting as a natural barrier to disease. They also help form the essential vitamin K, which is crucial for blood clotting and bone metabolism, and vitamin B, a vital building block for healthy brain function and maintaining energy levels. Gut bacteria help combat other infections from more aggressive micro-organisms.
Signs Of A Gut In Distress
There are both internal and external indicators that your gut isnt functioning at its best. Physically, some red flags to look out for are:
- Food sensitivities
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Your appearance can change when your gut flora is out of whack, too. Visibly you might start to notice a little belly pooch, extra weight all over, or unexplained weight loss. Skin irritations like acne and eczema are also indicators.
You may have heard the term leaky gut. While this doesnt medically refer to any specific gut disorder, it can be the side effect of a bigger problem. Leaky gut is also called increased intestinal permeability.
It occurs when small cracks or holes in your intestinal lining allow harmful substances to leach into your bloodstream. This permeability causes inflammation and pain and upsets the microbiota balance. Many people find drinking bone broth is an effective way to heal a leaky gut.
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Downside Of Artificial Sweeteners
Because they potentially reduce the number of good bacteria in your gut and encourage insulin resistance, avoid artificial sweeteners. Saccharin and sucralose, for sure, and possibly stevia, adversely affect gut bacteria. Insulin resistance and high blood sugar themselves can disrupt the gut barrier and increase its permeability so that inflammatory compounds and toxins enter the blood.
Whole Nutrient Dense Plant Foods
Diets that are high in whole plant foodsfruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grainsand low in added sugar and saturated and trans fats stimulate the proliferation of beneficial bacteria such as those that have anti-inflammatory properties.4 In this aspect, liberal amounts of raw fruits and vegetables are particularly useful in building healthy gut microflora.5 Soluble fiber fights inflammation linked to obesity-related conditions and improves immunity.6 Additionally, soluble fiber reduces the antibioticresistant microbes in the gut. Legumes, avocadoes, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, apricots, nectarines, oranges, apples berries, oats, barley, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are good sources of soluble fiber.7
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Natural Ways To Improve Your Gut Health
When you hear about gut health you might think of stomach aches, nausea, etc. And while thats part of it, the health of our gut actually affects our health in dozens of other ways.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am just someone who has been researching this profusely for several years in an effort to improve my own health. I recommend working with a holistic practitioner such as a naturopathic doctor if you suspect you have gut issues.
As I mentioned damage to our gut doesnt only present itself as obvious digestive problems. Your gut health can be struggling even if you never have stomach aches.
The 11 Best Ways To Improve Your Digestion Naturally
Everyone experiences occasional digestive symptoms such as upset stomach, gas, heartburn, nausea, constipation or diarrhea.
However, when these symptoms occur frequently, they can cause major disruptions to your life.
Fortunately, diet and lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on your gut health.
Here are 11 evidence-based ways to improve your digestion naturally.
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How To Know If You Have Poor Gut Health
Signs of an unhealthy gut are not just limited to the stomach,they include effects on skin, energy levels and overall health too.
Here are 5 common signs of an unhealthy gut
- Upset stomach: Stomach disturbances like excessive burping, gas, bloating,flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, and/ or acidity
- Uncontrolled changes in weight, usually weight gain
- Sleep disturbances
- Irritation and mood changes
Is food intolerance a gut issue?
Some people may find it difficult to digest certain foods and can show an unpleasant physical reaction to them. For example, bloating, diarrhea, etc. An easy way to know if you are intolerant to certain specific food items is to get a food intolerance test done. Please note that it is different from a food allergy. Food intolerance is related to the digestive system while food allergies involve the immune system. Allergy-causing food can trigger signs and symptoms more severe than food intolerance, including digestive problems, rashes, or swollen airways.
Looking to book a food intolerance blood test? Get tested here.
How to improve gut health naturally?Here we have covered practical and effective natural remedies for gut health:
6. Eat slowly:Chew your food thoroughly. Never rush to finish your meals. This helps ensure complete and quick digestion and optimum absorption of nutrients. A healthy digestion process is what you need for reducing gut discomfort.
Probiotics Are Great For Your Gut
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, and the condition you are trying to treat. 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 and speak to a registered dietitian or health care professional about choosing a probiotic that is right for you.
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Restoring Gut Flora After Antibiotics
Antibiotics deplete many bacteria, not just the ones making you sick. Thats why they should only be used under the supervision of a doctor when you really need them.
Antibiotics are an essential means to target bacterial infections. The problem is, weve used them too much and antibiotic resistance is becoming a major problem. Your gut flora isnt keen on them either, and for good reason.
Studies show that antibiotics alter the composition of your gut biome in the long and short term. Thats why some doctors also prescribe a probiotic at the same time. If you do need them, make sure to top up your prebiotic fibre intake to nourish your good bugs, and get a microbiome test to see how you can help them recover.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners And Sugar
A diet high in added sugars can increase your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, poor mental health, and cavities. As for your gut, some bacteria thrive on sugars. Excess bacteria can throw off the balance in your microbiome.
Studies have found that regular consumption of non-caloric artificial sweeteners can alter the balance of your gut microbiota. It can even cause glucose intolerance. These include things like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin.
Avoid diet sodas and other zero-calorie beverages. Artificial sweeteners may also be hiding in supposedly healthy yogurts, granola, and protein bars. Always check the label first.
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Symptoms Of Poor Gut Health
Keep in mind, these are just symptoms that can occur if your gut is in poor health. That does not mean that the gut is the only thing responsible for any of these problems, but that it may be contributing.
2. Digestive Symptoms | Bloating, nausea, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea are obvious signs that your gut needs attention. If youve had these symptoms for a long time, youve likely been given the diagnosis of IBS. The good news is, theres so much you can do about that!
3. Persistent Skin Problems | Chronic issues such as eczema, acne, psoriasis can be a sign of poor gut health. Especially if skin doesnt improve with the use of topical treatments or even medication.
4. Brain Fog / Fatigue | Feeling cloudy, having a hard time focusing or paying attention can be a sign that your gut isnt healthy. Your gut may be working overtime to digest food, therefore taking away energy from your brain. Or your gut may not be absorbing minerals needed for your brain to function optimally.
5. Emotional Imbalances and Mental Health | Did you know that the majority of Serotonin is created in our gut? So it only makes sense that when our gut is struggling, so would our emotions!
6. Autoimmune Diseases | Theres a correlation between poor gut health and autoimmune disease.
Add Fermented Foods To Your Diet
Fermentation is an anaerobic food preparation process in which live microorganisms like yeast and bacteria are used to break down the foods. Historically this was done to preserve foods and eliminate toxins, but today its also done to impart flavor. And, of course, for the abundant health benefits.
The live microorganisms in fermented foods can prevent the invasion of harmful bacteria into the gut and improve the immune system. People have used fermented foods to treat gut-associated diseases for many years. Fermentation can increase the health benefits of many foods. Popular fermented foods include:
- Sourdough bread
Most fermented foods contain probiotics. Probiotics are foods that add live beneficial bacteria to your gut flora. They can help to improve digestion and metabolism, support immune function, and even boost your mood. Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics.
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apples however, it doesnt always contain probiotics. Youll see many claims about the benefits of apple cider vinegar for gut health. But there is no scientific evidence backing this claim thus far. However, ACV is packed with antioxidants and live bacteria. These can be good for your gut flora and help with inflammation.
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Why Is Gut Health So Important
Our gut is responsible for putting our body into working order. As it breaks down the foods we eat, our gut absorbs nutrients that support our bodys functions.
Throughout your gut, your body can produce good bacteria and help keep bad bacteria in check. When you have a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, youre more likely to feel and stay healthy.
Heres what VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio says is true about gut health and how to keep it healthy.
What Causes Constipation
Most of us experience occasional bouts of constipation, while for some its a more chronic condition. It can be made worse by stress, anxiety or depression, and also certain medications.13
It can be caused by a change in diet, such as not eating enough fibre, for example from fruit and vegetables, or not taking in enough fluids.14
But lack of exercise is another important factor in making you more likely to have temporarily sluggish bowels.15
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Get Outside & Get Dirty
There are tremendous benefits to spending time outdoors in the dirt for your microbiome! Being in contact with the earth exposes your immune system to trillions of microorganisms that exist in the ground and on plants. Studies have found that exposure to soil bacteria can improve quality of life by increasing feelings of happiness, vitality and improve cognitive function.
One study found that certain kinds of soil bacteria help to activate groups of neurons in the brain responsible for producing serotonin, aka the happy hormone.
Researchers have confirmed that exposure to outdoor microbes in childhood is linked to a more robust immune system and is linked to lower rates of asthma and allergies.
The Link Between Your Teeth And Your Gut
Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Having regular dental cleanings and check-ups may not seem to be important to a healthy microbiome, but studies at Cornell University and in Sweden have found that bacteria from your mouth can get into your stomach and cause problems.
Avoid the bad guys taking over the good guys in your tummy by taking care of your teeth.
Limit sugary foods, said Susan Mintz, RN, BSN, CDE, of Brunswick County Health Department in Bolivia, North Carolina. In addition to being inflammatory to the system, sugar can cause yeast to grow and it can throw off delicate gut balances. In addition, avoid prepackaged foods and stay away from processed foods.
In addition to being inflammatory to the system, sugar can cause yeast to grow and it can throw off delicate gut balances.
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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.
How To Improve Your Gut Health And Microbiome Naturally
One of the best ways to improve your gut health is through the food you eat. Evidence shows theres a distinct correlation between your gut health and quality of your diet. Diets high in fibre and prebiotics support a more diverse microbiome . A diverse gut microbiome is one of the most important markers of good overall health .
To read more about how to improve your gut health and microbiome naturally, read our blog, 9 Ways To Have A Healthy Gut.
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