Maintaining A Healthy Gut
Gut health is a wide and interesting field of medical study that focuses on how food is digested and absorbed to the general well-being and benefits of a healthy GI tract. One of the important aspects of gut health is the study of the microorganisms that live within the gut. Collectively, this large microorganism ecosystem is called the gut microbiome, gut microbiota, or gut flora.
Generally, the human body houses billions of microorganisms, ranging from viruses and bacteria to fungi. Some of these microbes are dangerous; many of them are helpful. These microorganisms are found in almost all parts of the human body, including the nose, the mouth, the skin, and—very relevant to our topic—the digestive system.
Interestingly, there are more microorganisms in the human gut system than there are anywhere else in the body. This signals that the gut flora plays a crucial role in the proper health of our digestive systems, and consequently, our bodies. The role of imbalanced gut microbiota has been studied in many disease conditions including irritable bowel disease (IBS), atopic eczema and other types of allergic conditions, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and diabetes and obesity.
On the other hand, a healthy gut is a healthy body system. Gut flora has been known to play an important role in immunity and body defenses. They do this by 1) producing antimicrobial compounds that prevent pathogens from establishing a home, and 2) competing for nutrients with otherwise harmful organisms that find their way into the human body. These give them the ability to outcompete these pathogens, essentially protecting the human body.
Gut flora is also crucial to food digestion, absorption, and metabolism. They help in the breakdown of various complex carbohydrates. They also help in the biochemical production of various essential nutrients including vitamins and amino acids. All these culminate in faster production and distribution of energy for other important body processes.
So, it is clear that maintaining gut flora health is important to keep the tiny fraction of bad microbes in check.
Are you considering a gut DNA test?
The testing kits four times per year probiotics are sent every month.
Check out our Gut DNA test Review –
How To Protect Your Gut Flora
Protecting the microbiota of your gut is up to you. This is because the things we eat have a huge role to play in how healthy our gut flora is.
Reduce the intake of antibiotics
Basically, don’t use antibiotics unless prescribed and otherwise necessary. The careless use of antibiotics can lead the antibiotic resistance. Studies have also shown, for instance, that antibiotics can result in a devastating imbalance of intestinal bacteria. In fact, all antibiotics, irrespective of their strengths of actions, can significantly alter the beneficial state of gut microbiota. This is because antibiotics do not differentiate between helpful and harmful bacteria, and instead, clear out both good and bad microorganism. This also creates an opportunity for pathogens to establish dominance—if they survive.
Eating Gut Healthy Food
Food also has its own role in upsetting this balance.
So, what and how should you eat?
- Eat a variety of foods. Because there are a diverse species of microbes in the human gut and each has its own unique nutrient composition and need, eating a wide array of foods can help to improve gut health and functioning. In fact, in health science-speak, a diverse microbiota is a healthy one. One important study explained how a diverse diet choice can lead to diverse gastrointestinal flora and, subsequently, a healthy gut.
- Include plenty of vegetables and fruits. As part of including diversity in your meals, including vegetables and fruits in your foods is highly recommended. Fibre and flavonoids—found exclusively in vegetables and fruits—have been shown to interact beneficially with GI microbiota. Fruits like apples, almonds, and pistachios, have also been indicated to significantly improve the intestinal ecosystem.
- Reduce intake of processed and fast foods. Fast foods have been linked to a drastic reduction in intestinal flora. Emulsifiers which are widely used in many processed foods have been shown to cause metabolic syndrome, reduce intestinal flora, and cause inflammation. Artificial sweeteners have also been shown to alter gut microbiome and result in liver inflammation.
- Include prebiotic foods. Prebiotics are special kinds of food that have high amounts of fibre. Because these foods are only broken down by intestinal flora, they have the capacity to increase the microbiota of the gut, which is why they are usually recommended in the first place. Moreover, they have been shown to confer many health benefits. One example of prebiotics is resistant starches.
Check out our Healthy gut diet a Complete meal plan and 13 good resons to follow the healthy gut diet.
Alcohol and Cigarettes
Studies have also shown alteration in gut microbiota in people who drink alcohol. People who smoke have a very high tendency to develop Crohn’s disease, one of the types of inflammatory bowel disease mentioned earlier. Fortunately, putting an end to smoking can result in a significant uptick in the healthy growth of intestinal microbiota.
No doubt, exercise and physical activity are good for overall health. On gut flora health, a study showed that athletes had more microbiota than other people. In another interesting study, the gut flora quantity and composition of active women was compared with that of inactive women. Women with an active lifestyle had a better composition and quantity than their counterparts who were sedentary.
Stress Less, Sleep More
Stress isn’t good for the body, as you might as well know. And it isn’t in any way beneficial to gut microbial health. High levels of stress have been known to impede blood flow and alter microbial health. stress has also been shown, by way of affecting gut flora, to increase susceptibility to illnesses.
A recent novel study on the relationship between sleep and gut microbiota showed that even insignificant sleep disruptions can lead to a significant alteration in gut flora. Substantial sleep loss led to an increase in bacteria linked to obesity, weight gain, and diabetes.
GI tract flora is as important as the organs in the body. In fact, it serves to protect many—if not all—of the organs in the body. However, many of the things we eat can significantly alter the health of this useful microbiota. As such, it is crucial to have your gut health in mind by eating diverse meals, including plenty of vegetables and fruits, getting good sleep, exercising daily, and reduce your use of antibiotics, drinking of alcohol and smoking of cigarettes