Did you know there are more than 40 trillion bacteria living in and on your body? The bacteria living in your intestine are called the gut microbiota. In a healthy person, it’s made up of mostly good bacteria. They are essential for a healthy digestive system. So how do you improve your gut bacteria?
1. Your cleaning products matter
Do you use a lot of disinfectant cleaning products? Maybe you need to rethink your cleaning approach. Disinfectant cleaning products have the potential to disrupt your gut microbiota.
In 2018, researchers did a series of experiments on the effects of disinfectant cleaning products on human gut flora. They studied over 700 infants. The results were nothing less than shocking.
One would think using these products would be the best for these kids. Right? Turns out no… It was found that babies living in homes where disinfectant cleaning products were used at least weekly, had bad gut microbes.
These babies were twice more likely to have higher levels of a specific gut microbe. This is associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity. It was also reported that when these infants reached age 3, they had a higher body mass index (BMI) as compared to kids who weren’t exposed to high levels of disinfectants. Sounds scary, right? Disinfectants were supposed to protect us from bad bacteria! Seems like we finally know why they say excess of everything is harmful.
2. Vegetarian diet
If you’re looking to improve your gut health, embracing the plant-based diet could be a really good option. It has been proven that when you eat a vegetarian diet, your gut microbes flourish. All thanks to the high fiber intake from veggies and fruits.
Another study has shown a vegetarian diet could have a miraculous effect on people struggling with weight issues. Eating veggies and fruits reduced the population of disease-causing bacteria in the gut. This brought about great effects like reduced inflammation, weight, and cholesterol levels.
Experts recommend a vegetarian diet to reduce the population of disease-causing bacteria like E. coli. So, are there some special vegetarian foods you should be eating? Of course! Legumes, beans, veggies, fruits…
They all have fiber that your body cannot digest. Wait… what? Then why are we eating them? Because the good bacteria in your gut eat these fibers to thrive and flourish. Now you see where we are going with this? Some great high-fiber foods are green peas, artichokes, and raspberries.
Eat more steamed broccoli. It is super nutritious. Do you love salads? Well, you’ll love them even more after hearing this. Chickpea salad can be very nutritious for your gut bacteria AND your body.
Your body will also get protein! You can add boiled kidney beans to your chickpea salad, increasing both the taste and nutrition value. Squeeze a bit of lime and add black salt.
Experts have proven that fruits and veggies like apples and artichokes increased beneficial bacteria in the human gut. This not only improves your gut health but also prevents intestinal inflammation.
3. Taking antibiotics?
Going overboard with antibiotics can be harmful to your body. It can build resistance against the antibiotic as well as kill good bacteria. Don’t get me wrong here. You need to take antibiotics to combat bacterial infections.
If you’re sick and your doctor prescribes it, take the meds. But be cautious. It has been proven how the overuse of antibiotics is, in fact, a significant public health concern because it causes antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics kill bacteria. They cannot differentiate between the good and bad ones. The downside is your good gut bacteria also face the antibiotics. The result is your gut microbiota is damaged.
Experts say that even after 6 months of antibiotic use, your gut is missing good bacteria. The problem is so crucial that the CDC advises people to talk to their doctor about alternatives to antibiotics if it’s possible.
4. Stop smoking
So you thought smoking only affects your lungs? You couldn’t be more wrong. Smoking has so many awful effects on your health, it’s better you quit as soon as possible. This includes your gut health. Smoking also increases your chances of getting cancer.
In 2018, a special review of research was published. After 16 years, it was concluded that smoking kills good gut bacteria and increases the population of bad bacteria.
That is why long-term smokers often develop chronic digestive issues. Their chances of getting intestinal diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) also increase.
5. Eat a diverse diet
Your intestine isn’t home to just one species of bacteria. There are several living in there and your gut needs all of them. It is essential for your digestive system. In fact, a diverse microbiota is considered to be better for your health. That’s not me saying that.
Experts believe the more diverse your gut bacteria is, the more health benefits you’ll enjoy. Wondering how to grow diverse gut bacteria? Eat different types of food! A diverse diet leads to diverse gut flora.
The bad news is the American Diet isn’t very diverse and focuses largely on sugar and fat. You need to include as many plants, fruits, and legumes in your diet as you can.
6. More fermented foods
Fermented foods are great for your gut health. They have already been altered by microbes, which make them good for your gut flora. Yogurt and kimchi are rich in microbes that your gut will welcome.
You can make delicious salads out of them. Kimchi salad is delicious and a great addition to an afternoon lunch or evening meal. You can use yogurt to make smoothies. Top it up with blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. Your gut will thank you.
When we say gut flora, most people instantly imagine probiotics. It is true, probiotics are good for you. But prebiotics might help even more. Probiotics are living microorganisms.
They have amazing health benefits when you consume them. You can take supplements for it. They are good for you by changing the overall composition of your gut flora.
Probiotics even have a positive impact on your metabolism. But what it can’t do is permanently colonize your whole intestine. This is where prebiotics step in. Prebiotics promote the growth of beneficial microbes in your gut. You see, they are mostly made of complex carbohydrates and fiber.
Your body cannot digest or utilize it. So it passes straight to your intestine where the gut bacteria feed on it and thrive. Good bacteria break down these fibers for fuel and flourish. Several whole grains, fruits, and veggies contain prebiotics. But you can get them on their own as well.
Prebiotics are more beneficial than you think. They can even reduce your triglyceride and cholesterol levels, as well as help with insulin.
8. Give up artificial sweeteners and sugar
Sugar is bad for your gut health. But if you think replacing it with artificial sweetener is the best option, you’re in for a surprise. Artificial sweeteners are bad for your gut microbiota.
There have been studies showing that artificial sweeteners increase your blood sugar by impairing insulin response.
One particular study found artificial sweeteners caused negative changes in the gut microbiota. This impacted the blood sugar levels badly.
9. Polyphenols do more good than you imagine
Polyphenols are compounds found in plants and are great for your gut health. They are actually great for your health overall as they reduce your blood cholesterol levels, inflammation, and blood pressure.
The human body cannot digest polyphenols, so they make their way to the colon. There, the gut bacteria will feed on them.
Wondering how to get them? Green tea, onions, and almonds all are good sources of polyphenols. Broccoli and blueberries are great as well.