The Truth About Gut Bacteria

The Truth About Gut Bacteria

Did you know there are about 40 trillion bacteria in your body? That may sound insane, and even a little frightening, but not all of this bacteria is bad. In fact, most bacteria found within your intestines, known as gut microbiota, are super important for your health. Bacteria live throughout your entire body, but those found in your gut have the biggest impact on your overall well-being. They line your entire digestive system, affecting your metabolism, immune system, and even your mood. On the other hand, there are certain bacteria that can be very harmful to your health and contribute to many diseases. So, what’s the best way to improve your gut health in order to take the best care of your body? 

Not surprisingly, the food you eat plays a major role in contributing to the type of bacteria that lives inside your body. If you’re looking for ways to clean out your system and rejuvenate your gut health to promote good gut bacteria, here’s our best advice. 

Eat a Plant-Based Diet

Of course this is our number one tip for improving your overall health and wellness! It’s the easiest and best solution to ensure you’re treating your body the right way and fueling it with all the best nutrients. Diets containing animal products promote the growth of different types of bacteria compared to a plant-based diet. Many studies have shown that vegan, and even vegetarian diets, benefit the gut microbiota. It is unclear whether the positive effects of these diets can be solely contributed to the lack of meat intake, but we’re pretty certain. This can also be contributed to the high fiber contents of the food you consume. Now, we’re no scientists, but if the one common denominator between vegan and vegetarian diets is the lack of meat, it’s fair to say meat can have a negative effect on your gut health. 

Focus on Fiber

We mentioned above that a plant-based diet is typically higher in fiber, which is beneficial for a healthy gut. Making sure to consume a good amount of fiber is crucial for maintaining good gut bacteria. Good bacteria thrive on fiber; lack of fiber makes it easier for bad bacteria to inundate your gut. A wide array of legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables will help feed good bacteria while depleting bad bacteria. Some of the best fibrous choices include:

  • Broccoli

  • Chickpeas

  • Lentils

  • Green peas

  • Artichokes

  • Raspberries

  • Blueberries

Include Fermented Foods in Your Diet

Fermented foods and drinks are packed with natural probiotics that add to the diversity of your gut bacteria. Probiotics are essential for good gut health- they are live microorganisms that are specifically intended to restore and improve gut flora. Some great options for fermented foods include yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and tempeh. Kombucha is another fantastic option to improve your gut health, and there are so many different, delicious flavors. These types of foods are rich in lactobacilli, a type of bacteria that is beneficial for your gut and overall health. Studies have shown that individuals who consume more fermented foods than those who don’t have less enterobacteriaceae, a bacteria that is associated with inflammation and some chronic diseases. Just be mindful to consume fermented foods in moderation as too much can cause uncomfortable constipation, gas or bloating. 

Sleep, Eat, Exercise, Repeat

As always, our best advice is to maintain a healthy, plant-based diet, exercise regularly, and get a good amount of sleep every night. In addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise helps to regulate and promote a community of good gut bacteria. It’s also vital to sleep an adequate amount of time every night. This varies per person, but most people need at least six to eight hours of sleep to recharge for the next day. Lack of sleep can actually have an adverse effect on your gut flora. Maintaining a proper sleep schedule, exercising consistently, and eating a hearty diet all go hand in hand with handling stress. It may have never crossed your mind, but stress takes a direct hit at the trillions of bacteria in your body. Bad bugs thrive off of stress, while good bugs struggle to survive. While completely eliminating stress may not be possible, it’s important to find ways to cope with it (yoga, meditation, deep breathing, etc.) in order to reduce the amount of bad bacteria in your gut. 

You’ll typically always have some bad bugs in your system; your body needs them to be able to ward off and fight illnesses and diseases. The trick is making sure the good ones dominate. If you’ve experienced gut problems, or even any other type of health issue, try out some of these changes. Take out the bad, replace it with some good, and you’ll see a world of difference. 

 By: Sydney Daly-Weber

Holly MacKinnon