5 Lifestyle Choices That Affect Gut Bacteria

2019 Dec 1st

2019 Dec 1st

After a lifetime of hearing the benefits of things that are antibacterial, it can be hard to embrace the idea that some species of bacteria are good for you. Well-maintained, your digestive tract is a perfect home for good bacteria that play an important role in your health.

Not surprisingly, what you pass through your gut — and what you neglect to pass through your gut — can have a dramatic effect on its permanent residents. Daily habits and activities can also help or hinder your gut health.

1. DIET

Ideally, you want diverse and healthy gut flora thriving in your digestive tract. Some foods you eat will pass through and provide valuable nutrients to your good gut flora. Eating a variety of whole foods and low-fat foods is a simple way to promote a healthier gut.

Indulging in an abundance of fried foods, red meat, and high-fat dairy products can contribute to poor gut health by harming the good bacteria and feeding the bad bacteria. This can lead to chronic illnesses that affect your entire body.

2. PREBIOTICS & PROBIOTICS

They may sound alike and they’re both good for your health, but prebiotics and probiotics help your gut in two very different ways.

Prebiotics are a type of fibre that keep your gut’s good bacteria well-fed. You’re probably already consuming these by eating common foods like onions, garlic, asparagus, whole wheat, spinach, beans, bananas, oats, and soybeans.

Probiotics are live, gut-friendly bacteria and yeasts. They’re found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and water kefir — and every Heyday Fermentables food kit. When you consume probiotics, they stay in your gut and work to keep you healthy.

3. ALCOHOL

It’s no secret that too much alcohol can be detrimental to your health. But you might not have heard of dysbiosis. That’s an imbalance in the types of bacteria in your gut, and it can be caused by overconsumption of alcohol.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy gut and enjoy alcohol in moderation. Which bottle you reach for might also make a big difference. There’s evidence that red wine can have a positive effect on gut bacteria.

4. ANTIBIOTICS

Antibiotics are supposed to rid your body of bad microorganisms, but there can be collateral damage. Using antibiotics can hinder the health and diversity of the good bacteria in your gut, with lasting effects.

While you can’t avoid doctor-prescribed antibiotics, you can avoid consuming them second hand by avoiding meat from livestock raised on antibiotics. Shop for packages labelled certified organic or antibiotic-free.

5. WELLNESS

In addition to the things you consume and digest, making changes to your daily habits and routine can have a profound effect on your overall health.

If you’re a smoker, add gut health to the list of reasons to quit. The chemicals inhaled while smoking harm the health and diversity of gut bacteria.

Getting enough sleep on a regular schedule can keep your circadian rhythm happy, and that has a positive effect on gut flora. Low to moderate physical activity can also promote healthy bacteria, with the added benefit of reducing stress — which on its own can have a negative effect on your gut health.

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