Like good and bad cholesterol, there are good and bad bacteria in your gut. Professionals call all gut bacteria microbiome. There are thousands of gut microbiome types. They play different roles, such as protecting you from intestinal infections and processing food.
Your age, genes, environment, diet, and medication affect the health of your gut, stomach, and digestive system. If your gut bacteria is imbalanced, it can affect how you feel and function. Fortunately, you have several options for keeping your gut healthy.
What is Gut Bacteria and What Does It Do?
Microbiota also goes by gut flora, and they affect everything from your immune system to your metabolism. Your combination of gut flora may increase or decrease your risk of:
· Colon cancer.
Some bacteria protects you from certain types of cancers. Using mice as test subjects, researchers noted that fewer subjects developed lymphoma compared to a controlled group when treated with the microbiome.
Another research group found that a gut bacterial strain, Akkermansia muciniphila, blocked the body’s cell communication. This disruption caused fewer toxins into the bloodstream, which decreased inflammation.
A similar study used a type of bacterium to treat mice with rheumatoid arthritis, and the results showed:
· Fewer inflammatory conditions.
· Less severe symptoms.
· Less frequent symptoms.
Researchers at the University of Chicago also found that introducing a certain gut bacteria fights cancer. The specific strain they studied boosts the body’s immune system, and it attacks cancer tumor cells. The effects are similar to anti-cancer drug treatments.
What Does Gut Flora Indicate?
Your gut bacteria could indicate if you are susceptible to other conditions. For instance, studies from the Mayo Clinic indicated that a certain gut biome is high in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, while those without the condition have low levels of this type.
Signs of an unhealthy balance of bacteria in your gut includes the following:
· Upset stomach and difficulty digesting food and processing waste
· Cravings for sugar
· Changes in weight with no known cause
· Insomnia, poor sleep patterns, and chronic fatigue
· Skin conditions like eczema
· Food allergies or digesting difficulties
· Poor immune system functioning
· Development of autoimmune diseases
Refine sugar lowers the number of good bacteria, which, in turn, increases your craving for sugar. If you have an unhealthy diet filled with sugar, you can get into a cycle that further harms your gut and body.
Do Gut Health Probiotics Work?
You can use gut health probiotics and prebiotics to keep your digestive system in check. Probiotics can help with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, infectious diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease. The intent of gut health supplements is to:
· Promote the growth of healthy bacteria.
· Put good bacteria in your body.
Those are the key differences between prebiotics & probiotics. Prebiotics provide nourishment that is supposed to encourage good bacteria growth. Gut health probiotics, on the other hand, are good live bacteria you are putting into your system.
Not all prebiotics & probiotics supplements are the same, and you should consult with your doctor before taking them. If you have bacterial overgrowth in your gut, probiotics could make the condition worse.
You can also find prebiotics & probiotics in some food, such as yogurt, raspberries, sauerkraut, and garlic. By changing your diet to include these foods, you can create balance in your gut without supplements.
Is There a Gut Health Diet I Can Follow?
A good microbiome diet means cutting out processed foods with high amounts of fat and sugar. Instead, replace unhealthy options with lean protein and plant-based foods.
If you want to consume foods with prebiotics to encourage good bacteria growth, add the following foods to your everyday diet:
· Jerusalem artichokes, which have prebiotic fiber, vitamin B, and iron
· Leeks, which include vitamin K and C
· Raspberries, which has antioxidants that gut microbiome eat
· Onions, which also helps with constipation
· Beans and legume, such as peas, black beans, and lentils
· Asparagus, which also fights inflammation
· Garlic, which is also an anti-inflammatory food
If you need to get probiotics into your gut, start eating the following foods:
· Yogurt with “live and active cultures” written on the container
· Kefir, which is similar to yogurt but drinkable
· Sauerkraut and kimchi, which are both fermented cabbage
· Miso, which gains good bacteria in the fermenting process of the soybeans, barley, or rice
· Kombucha that has a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast
You will also want to stay away from certain foods, such as artificial sweeteners, red meat, alcohol, and processed or refined foods. Foods that are difficult to process negatively affect your gut’s bacteria combination. For instance, refined sugar decreases the amount of good bacteria.
Additional Ways to Keep Your Gut Healthy
Besides eating healthier, you can do the following for your gut health:
· Eat slowly and thoroughly chew, so you absorb and digest nutrients better
· Drink enough water to protect the lining of your intestines
· Decrease your stress through meditation, massage, walking, yoga, or any activity that lower your stress levels
· Get sufficient sleep of 7 to 8 hours a night
If you have tried everything but are still having trouble maintaining a healthy gut, check if you have food allergies or intolerances. Food intolerances can trigger negative reactions in your body, such as:
· Abdominal pain.
· Acid reflux.
Food with probiotics, like those mentioned above, can help you tolerate food allergies and provide relief for related conditions, like eczema. Diets high in certain fermented foods and fiber can improve your tolerance of food allergies.
Your environment and medication can also affect your gut health. For instance, certain antidepressant medications can increase bad bacteria. Other medications, such as inhalers and anti-inflammatory drugs, can increase your body’s resistance to antibiotics.
Cigarette smoking affects all parts of your health. When it comes to bacteria, smoking changes the balance in your gut by increasing some and decreasing others.
Likewise, you absorb alcohol in your upper intestinal tract. Drinking alcohol regularly can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria in your gut.