Research shows that whether we are overweight or slim, depressed or happy, suffer from allergies or diseases, our gut bacteria play a role. Around 100 billion bacteria populate every single human. In fact, only 10 % of the cells in the human body are human, the rest are microbial. So, what does all of this meal? It’s time to rethink the importance of a healthy gut.
Our microbiome foundation is set early in life
In simple terms, the totality of microorganisms that populate humans or other living beings can be called “microbiome.” Many different factors like eating more plant-based foods, limit sugary foods and having an active lifestyle contribute to a healthy microbiome.
Our microbiome is not only essential for digesting food — each type of bacteria has a different “task.” Therefore, a wider bacterial diversity means there are more “helpers” to digest food, manage weight, and fight diseases or allergies.
Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry. We’re going to show you 8 ways to diversify your gut flora.
1. Antibiotics are the enemy of a healthy gut
If your gut should name its number one enemy, it would probably choose antibiotics. Just one antibiotics treatment is strong enough to disrupt the makeup of bacteria in your gut for up to a year. This can potentially lead to antibiotic resistance and cause other potential health problems. When there’s an overgrowth of a harmful bacteria, your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics to fight off the infection. By no means are we suggesting you don’t follow your doctor’s recommendation, however, we will show you some ways to rebuild the healthy bacteria you lose by taking antibiotics.
Nowadays, not only do we consume antibiotics in form of pills, but it is also in our drinking water and food. Animals that were raised under conventional conditions, meaning in mass production, are usually given a lot of antibiotics. So if you choose to eat these conventionally raised animal products, you too will ingest their antibiotics.
2. Choose fermented foods
Another great way to improve the number of healthy bacteria in your gut is by integrating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt or tempeh regularly if you’re not doing so already. Fermented foods can help to reduce some digestive issues and increase the bacterial diversity after an antibiotic treatment.
As we age, the production of digestive enzymes and juices required for proper digestion begin to decrease. Fermented products can make up for this loss.
3. Keep stress levels low
Different factors contribute to our level of stress. Over-training and not getting enough sleep are two of them. Stress doesn’t only change the physiological function of the gut, it also changes the composition of our microbiota. Studies have shown that the microbial diversity in the large intestine reduced when mice were exposed to high levels of stress. Our gut is vulnerable to the presence of stress and a variety of gastrointestinal diseases are linked to it. Don’t forget to schedule some time for yourself in your busy life.
4. Stay active
Studies show that people who exercise regularly have a healthier microbiome than couch potatoes. Therefore, make exercise one of your priorities – preferably outside. If you regularly expose yourself to nature, your body is in contact with a wider diversity of bacteria.
5. Skip sugary and processed foods
Try to limit sugary and processed foods as much as possible. Excessive consumption of them can disbalance the gut bacteria. The typical Western diet which is low in fiber can deplete the friendly microbes that work so hard to keep us healthy. Therefore, replace refined and very processed foods like white bread with the whole and natural version.
6. Eat plenty of plant-based foods
After only one day of eating a lot of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains, the population of healthy bacteria increases. In contrast to this, eating mainly animal products decreases the type of bacteria that contribute to health.
To feed your gut bacteria, you need to give them prebiotics like fiber. Fibers are indigestible carbs found in plant-based products that nourish our healthy gut bacteria. That’s one of the reasons why we can’t get enough of avocado, berries, lentils, beans, whole grains and flax seeds in our 8fit recipe book. Other pre-biotic containing foods that are a top menu choice for healthy bacteria include raw garlic and onions, leeks, asparagus, and banana.
7. Fussy hygiene kills bacterial diversity
Antibacterial soap and cleansers are everywhere. Panicking too much about being in contact with harmful bacteria can also kill the good ones. Not keeping everything meticulously sterile results in a diverse gut bacteria. Your gut has a stronger troup to fight illnesses and keep the immune system strong.
8. Resistant starch might be the real superfood
Ever heard of resistant starch? Most of the carbohydrates in our diet are starches. However, we don’t digest all of the starches we eat. As the name suggests, resistant starch is resistant to be digested and is therefore never absorbed or enters the bloodstream. This type of starch can have powerful health benefits, studies show that resistant starch can influence our gut bacteria positively because it feeds the friendly bacteria in our intestine.
Resistant starch can be found in carbohydrate-rich foods such as grains, potatoes, rice and beans – particularly when these foods are cooled. When your cooked starchy foods are cooled for several hours, part of the starch becomes resistant – no matter if you heat your meal up again or not. This is one reason to prep your meals in advance and get more of the healthy resistant starch.