Eat A Diverse Range Of Foods
There are hundreds of species of bacteria in your intestines, each of which plays a specific role in health and requires different nutrients for growth.
Generally speaking, a diverse microbiome is considered a healthy one. This is because the more species of bacteria you have, the more health benefits they may be able to contribute to (
Unfortunately, the traditional Western diet is not very diverse and is rich in fat and sugar. In fact, an estimated 75% of the worlds food is produced from only 12 plant and 5 animal species .
However, diets in certain rural regions are often more diverse and richer in different plant sources.
For this reason, a few studies have shown that gut microbiome diversity is much greater in people from rural regions of Africa and South America than in people from urban areas in Europe or the United States .
Eating a diverse diet rich in whole foods can lead to a diverse microbiome, which is beneficial for your health.
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.
How To Restore Healthy Gut Flora
Probiotics are generally safe, and sometimes even recommended to take during a course of antibiotics, except for hospitalised patients and people with compromised immune systems. They are especially helpful afterward to support the recovery of your gut microbiome.
TIP There is no such thing as a clean gut diet your gut naturally cleans itself. However, you can help your gut bacteria keep you healthy with a plant-rich prebiotic diet.
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Dose Timing Determine Impact
As antibiotics kill off infection-causing microorganisms, they also non-selectively destroy communities of beneficial gut bacteria, weakening the stability of the intestinal microbiome. This wholesale destruction can be massive experimental data collected from a study using qPCR indicate up to a 10-fold reduction in bacterial isolates immediately after treatment with antibiotics : e95476).
Its truly a decimating effect, says Dr. Skilton, a naturopathic physician and herbalist at the Elysium Clinic of Natural Medicine, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
In a webinar sponsored by Holistic Primary Care and Bioceuticals, she outlined the myriad impacts of antibiotics on the human microbiome, noting that not all antibiotics are equally destructive to gut bacteria.
The degree to which these drugs damage intestinal microbiota depends on drug type, treatment duration, and frequency of use, Skilton said. Certain antibiotics, for instance, trigger a greater release of endotoxins and cytokines than others. Higher daily doses are more impactful. Prolonged use of high-dose antibiotics can cause extreme damage to the microbiome that may take years of restorative therapy to reverse, if it can be reversed at all.
And contrary to common belief, intravenous antibiotics can have the same negative impact on gut flora as oral drugs. For a long time it was thought that IV drugs would bypass the gut and not have the same impact. We now know this is not true.
How Else Can I Replenish My Gut Bacteria
What you eat has a big impact on your gut microbiota. But to give healthy gut bacteria their best chance, there are some other things you can do as well.
To restore gut flora after antibiotics, make efforts to keep mental stress under control. Research has shown that emotions like sadness and elation can trigger changes in the gut . Scientists call it the gut-brain axis, a connection that can potentially affect gut flora.
Last but not least, sleep quality has an impact on gut health. Poor sleep quality or sleep deprivation can negatively impact the gut microbiota. This effect is also believed to be mediated via the gut-brain axis. Lack of sleep can trigger sugar cravings, and sugar feeds bad bacteria in the gut.
The bottom line is that taking antibiotics is not entirely avoidable and the negative impact of antibiotics on the gut microbiota is well known. But by eating a healthy diet including whole foods, fruits and vegetables, and fermented foods taking probiotics and prebiotics keeping stress under control and getting enough good-quality sleep, you can restore a healthy gut flora after antibiotics, boost your immune system, and enhance your overall health.
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What To Eat Today
Ditch the Western diet
A diet thats high in animal protein, sugar, and fat, and low in fiber like the diets full of processed foods that are popular in the United States have been shown to , especially of beneficial Bifidobacterium and Eubacterium species.
The Western diet has also been linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and even certain cancers.
A recent review found that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with a lower intake of red meat, processed foods and meats, and dairy increased the amount of total bacteria in the gut and supported beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. So why not try the Mediterranean diet, which follows these recommendations?
Stick to one glass of red wine or dark chocolate
Other types of alcohol
found that when people stopped smoking, they had more microbial diversity in their gut. To be on the safe side, halt vaping activities too.
Go for a 30-minute run or workout
Add gut health to the list of reasons you should hit the gym. While the gut-exercise connection isnt yet clear, many researchers believe that exercise reduces stress hormones, which affect the microbes in your gut.
Eat Lots Of Vegetables Legumes Beans And Fruit
Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of nutrients for a healthy microbiome.
They are high in fiber, which your body cant digest. However, certain bacteria in your gut can digest fiber, which stimulates their growth.
Beans and legumes also contain very high amounts of fiber.
Some high fiber foods that are good for your gut bacteria include:
One study found that following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevented the growth of some disease-causing bacteria (
Many fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Fiber promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including specific types such as Bifidobacteria.
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How Antibiotics Impact Gut Health
Doctors figured out how to get rid of bad gut bacteria by creating antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics also tend to kill some of the good bacteria in your gut. This throws off gut health and may allow unhealthy bacteria like C. difficile to grow out of control. C. difficile infections can cause severe diarrhea, gut tissue damage, or even death in extreme cases.
Fermented Foods Are Gut
Fermented foods are another great source of probiotics. The crowd favourite is yogurt, however, if youre going to be eating a lot of yogurt, make sure that it is sugar-free! There are several other options that are a great source of good bacteria. Kombucha is becoming a very popular source of probiotics. You can also eat things like pickles, kimchee, and kefir to ensure that youre getting enough live cultures to keep your gut healthy and happy.
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How Is Gastroenteritis Treated
Once a healthcare provider diagnoses your bacterial gastroenteritis, it is easy to treat. Antibiotics work to cure some forms of bacterial gastroenteritis within a few days. You may need additional treatment to replace the fluids and electrolytes in your body. This will depend on the severity of your illness. In some cases, you may need IV fluid replacement.
Destroying The Good With The Bad
Whether labeled as a “good” bacteria or a “bad” one, they are both single-celled organisms that are destroyed fairly easily. Sometimes, it’s a necessary evil, such as when you have to take antibiotics to kill a strep throat infection. However, the antibiotics also kill your good bacteria, which can lead to compounding problems such as:
- Bowel irregularity
- Yeast overgrowth
- Complications for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome
There are many ways to destroy bacteria, some of which are out of your control. If you need to take antibiotics to cure an infection, you may kill off your bacteria, good and bad. Similarly, bacteria can be destroyed by:
- Chronic laxative or fiber supplementation
- Prolonged diarrhea
- Completing a bowel prep, like the one required for a colonoscopy
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Increase Your Intake Of Probiotics
Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that provide a specific health benefit when consumed.
Probiotics dont permanently colonize the intestines in most cases. However, they may benefit your health by changing the overall composition of the microbiome and supporting your metabolism .
A review of seven studies found that probiotics have little effect on the gut microbiome composition of healthy people. However, there is some evidence that probiotics may improve the gut microbiome in those with certain diseases .
One review of 63 studies found mixed evidence of the effectiveness of probiotics in altering the microbiome. But the researchers noted that the probiotics strongest effects seemed to be in restoring the microbiome to a healthy state after it had been compromised .
Nevertheless, some studies have shown that probiotics can improve the functioning of certain gut bacteria, as well as the specific types of chemicals they produce .
You can increase your intake of probiotics by consuming more probiotic-rich foods, including fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt.
Alternatively, you can consider using a probiotic supplement. However, be sure to talk with your doctor before starting supplementation, especially if you are taking other medications or have any underlying health conditions.
Can I Prevent Gastroenteritis
The best way to prevent bacterial gastroenteritis is to practice good hygiene.
- Wash your hands thoroughly while handling or preparing food.
- Dont leave food out too long when youre serving it. Throw it out if theres any chance it has gone bad.
- If you learn of an outbreak of tainted food or drink through a news report, avoid consuming those items.
- Limit contact with others who have symptoms such as vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- Avoid eating undercooked food.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
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Eat More Plants And Dietary Fiber
Almost every gut expert Ive read says that changing our diet is the best and most direct route we have for transforming our gut bacteria. They differ on whether or not to include fruits or grains however, the opinions are unequivocal on eating more plants especially green leafy vegetables.
By eating more plants, we achieve and maintain microbiota diversity which is going to lead to a clearer mind and happier disposition. Just as sugar is processed too easily and therefore starves our microbes, dietary fiber, or MACs a term the Sonnenburgs use throughout their book give our little guys plenty to feast on. Consuming plenty of MACs will not only keep our intestinal lining intact, but it will also help us sustain a more varied collection of bacteria, which is paramount to good health.
If Youre Stressed So Is Your Gut
Stress negatively impacts many aspects of our health including physical, mental, and even gut health.
Your microbiome doesnt just affect your intestines, it influences other organs, including your brain. If youre feeling stressed out, your microbes can feel it too. It can even decrease the abundance of important probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus.
Keeping beneficial bacteria at healthy levels can even improve your resilience to adversity. Thats because your gut microbes influence stress levels and mood hormones. Alleviate your stress by avoiding unnecessarily demanding situations, and try some techniques like breathing exercises and meditation.
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How Do Antibiotics Damage Your Gut Health
Antibiotics are prescribed to nearly half the UK population every year for common conditions and in hospitals to treat and prevent serious infections. Here are the most common applications for antibiotics:
|urinary tract, bladder and kidney infections||skin and wound infections|
Unfortunately, antibiotics dont stop at bad bacteria and they dont treat viral infections, which are often nearly impossible to distinguish from bacterial ones. Instead, antibiotics kill good bacteria too, and thats bad because good bacteria are often helping your body fight the infection.
Many people also experience mild-to-severe antibiotic side effects, especially if their immune health is already compromised, like hospital patients. More seriously, antibiotics can leave room for extremely harmful bacteria such as E.coli, C.diff and Salmonella infections that may be so severe that hospitalization is required.
What Is Gut Health
What is a gut and what makes it healthy?
Your gut includes all the parts of your digestive tract: the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine , and rectum.
But theres more to your gut than your own tissues. You also have about 100 trillion bacteria living inside it! These bacteria play such an influential role in your overall health that they are often called the forgotten organ.
Many of the bacteria in your gut are friendly, meaning they support your overall health. Some gut bacteria are bad because they can make you sick and increase your risk for certain health problems even depression. This is why understanding how to kill bad gut bacteria is so important.
Gut health refers to how well-balanced these bacteria are and the overall function of your digestive system. Factors like stress and poor diet can throw off the balance between good and bad gut bacteria.
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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.
Include Probiotic Supplements And Fermented Foods
As Robert Rountree, M.D., pioneer of functional medicine and an integrative physician, explains, “Probiotics are like good cops. We’re putting in the good cops, and the good cops can keep watch over the bad guys.”
One study showed that taking a probiotic supplement for just two weeks safely supported digestive health.* Probiotics can also provide nutritional support for functional GI needs like occasional gas and bloating, while encouraging regularity.*
In addition to supplements, you can also include fermented foods, like kefir, kimchi, yogurt, miso, sauerkraut and kombucha in your diet. Fermented foods also contain beneficial bacteria.
Of course, its always a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements, especially if youre dealing with health issues and are taking medications and other supplements.
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Influencers Dont Necessarily Know Science
Social media made people famous by promoting an aspirational lifestyle who often receive payment for advertising products and services.
Ask yourself, how many accredited health experts and researchers do you follow? Social media influencers are often highly paid by companies to promote products and/or services. They also made it to the top by sharing opinions, but not necessarily scientific facts.
Its important to do your own research, or else you may find yourself doing some very unscientific stuff and buying all sorts of gut health supplements that some rando with a hundred thousand followers told you to. Dont be afraid to question what youre being told.
The Best Probiotic Foods
“The gut microbiome is literally and figuratively the core of overall health, so eating foods that are good for the microbiome is good for your health,” Del Coro says.
Probiotics naturally occur in some fermented foods, but, they can also be added to foods. “Different groups of probiotic bacteria and yeasts you may see on food labels include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii,” Del Coro says.
These foods have naturally occurring probiotics:
Some easy ways to incorporate these foods in your diet are to use yogurt instead of mayo for homemade tuna or chicken salads, throw sauerkraut or kimchi on top of grain bowls and salads and add miso to salad dressings and sauces, Del Coro says.
“Just remember to consume probiotics raw,” Del Coro says. “The cooking process kills the live beneficial bacteria in these foods.”
One more thing: If probiotics are new to you, start slow. “If you aren’t used to eating a lot of fiber and then load up on foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, you may experience increased gas or bloating,” Del Coro notes. Those with digestive issues like Crohn’s or IBS may also have trouble tolerating probiotic-rich foods.
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