There are around 40 trillion bacteria in our bodies, most of which are in our intestines.
Collectively, they are known as gut microbiota, and they are hugely important for our health. However, certain types of bacteria in the intestines can also contribute to many diseases.
The food that we consume greatly affects the types of bacteria that lives inside us. Here are a few simple ways to improve your gut health.
Take probiotics and eat fermented foods
To boost the beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, in the gut, some people choose to take probiotic supplements. Taking probiotics can support a healthy gut microbiome, and that it may prevent gut inflammation and other intestinal problems. These are available in food shops, drug stores and online.
Fermented foods are also natural source of probiotics. Some of these include:
- fermented vegetables
Eat prebiotic fibre
Probiotics feed on non-digestible carbohydrates called prebiotics. This process encourages beneficial bacteria to multiply in the gut.
Prebiotics may help probiotics become more tolerant to certain environmental conditions, including pH and temperature changes.
People who want to enhance their gut health may wish to include more of the following prebiotic-rich foods in their diet:
- whole grains
Eat less sugar and sweeteners
Eating a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners may cause gut dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of gut microbes. A diet high in sugar and fat, negatively affects the gut microbiome. In turn, this can influence the brain and behaviour.
Sleep deprivation can negatively affect gut health.
Managing stress is important for many aspects of health, including gut health.
Psychological stressors can disrupt the microorganisms in the intestines, even if the stress is only short-lived. In humans, a variety of stressors can negatively affect gut health, including:
- psychological stress
- environmental stress, such as extreme heat, cold, or noise
- sleep deprivation
- disruption of the circadian rhythm
Some stress management techniques include meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation. Exercising regularly, sleeping well, and eating a healthful diet can also reduce stress levels.
Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily
Although it is often necessary to take antibiotics to combat bacterial infections, overuse is a significant health concern that can lead to antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics are also damaging to the gut microbiota and immunity, with some research reporting that even 6 months after their use, the gut still lacks several species of beneficial bacteria.
Smoking affects gut health as well as the health of the heart and lungs. It also greatly increases the risk of cancer.
Smoking alters the intestinal flora by increasing potentially harmful microorganisms and decreasing the levels of beneficial ones.
These effects may increase the risk of conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Maintaining a healthy gut contributes to better overall health and immune function. By making appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes, you can alter the diversity and number of microbes in their gut for the better. However, you should talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet. This is because for some people, such as those with irritable bowel syndrome or other medical conditions, probiotics and fiber-rich or vegetarian diets may not be helpful. If you have noticed any unusual changes in your gut health, you should visit your GP. For more information about private GP appointments click here or call us on 03300 58 44 55.