Bacteria is usually assumed to be a bad thing; we go on antibiotics when we’re sick in order to get rid of the bacteria in our body. The truth is, the bacteria in your gut can be the root cause of various health issues, or they can be keeping you healthy.
The human microbiome has been extensively researched throughout the last few years and we are learning more about it now than ever. Medical New Today reports that there are more than 1,000 different types of bacteria that make up this microscopic ecosystem in your body.
Gut bacteria plays a huge role in digesting food and making sure your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is capable of breaking down the food you consume. It is responsible for helping absorb and produce some vitamins as well as neutralize the environment of your gut.
The bacteria that make up the microbiome offer a boost for your immunity. The good bacteria acts as a barrier that can help fight against bad bacteria in the gut. However, when too many bad bacteria enter the gut, problems begin to show up. Bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea are just a few of the symptoms that correlate with too much harmful gut bacteria.
What we eat largely impacts the health and balance in our gut’s microbiome. Since our gut bacteria is helping the GI tract digest foods and absorb vitamins, it has direct contact with everything you consume. The good and the not-so-good.
Some of the foods that can cause major disruption in the microbiome are processed snacks, sugar, and alcohol. These foods kill the good bacteria in your gut which allows harmful bacteria to build up and create an imbalance of bacteria. Foods that are processed often have other chemicals in them which kill off helpful bacteria. Some foods that can be healthy such as soy, dairy and meats can become dangerous to the gut through processing.
Added sugars and preservatives contribute to this phenomenon. Another way the integrity of food is compromised is when the animals we get meat, dairy, and eggs from are pumped with hormones and antibiotics. This is why it is important to look for “grass-fed” and “cage-free” on food labels.
On the other hand, there are foods you can eat that can reverse imbalances in the gut which leads to a healthier body overall. Any fermented foods contain good bacteria that can increase and diversify the gut biome. Greek yogurt free from hormones and antibiotics is crawling with bacteria that can help the digestive system function. Beans, broccoli (and other green vegetables), bananas, and kombucha are a few others that make the list of foods which improve gut health.
Other factors that can positively help out your microbiome are reducing stress, sleeping more, and exercising. Since your has a circadian rhythm, enough sleep is important to keeping everything functioning properly. Gut bacteria has also been linked to the Central Nervous System in the way that it functions. This is why exercise and reducing stress help not only your gut health but your overall physical and mental health.
When looking at your diet, going with foods that will help your good gut bacteria flourish is beneficial and necessary for you total body health.