5 ways and 4 reasons to nourish your gut bugs

The human microbiome is the new frontier in biological science…

New research continues to uncover incredible health benefits that a healthy gut microbiome can deliver for even the most difficult diseases.

For instance…

  1. Gut bugs may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Quite incredibly, there is a strong gut-brain connection, which means the state of your gut has a huge influence on the brain. And researchers have discovered that certain types of intestinal bacteria may speed the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Gut bugs may reduce your risk of heart disease. Changes in the gut microbiome have consistently been found to be related to the development of atherosclerosis (the hardening and thickening of the arteries), high blood pressure and heart failure. In addition to the metabolic potential of gut microbes, it seems that congestion of the circulatory system can also displace your gut bacteria, increasing inflammation.
  3. Gut bugs may reduce your risk of cancer. By protecting against invading pathogens, fortifying the immune system, helping with molecule breakdown, and absorbing nutrients, the human microbiome seems to play a significant role in preventing and slowing the growth and spread of cancerous cells.
  4. Gut bugs may prevent obesity. Since the gut bacteria are involved in multiple functions of metabolism, it’s no surprise that changes in gut bacteria have been linked to increased odds of obesity.

Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer and obesity — four of the world’s top health issues. And the role of gut bugs doesn’t stop there…

Nourishing your gut bugs can improve bone health, hormone regulation, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, respiratory conditions and more.

Given that there are some 10 trillion gut bugs, there are a huge variety of different species. Bacterial diversity is actually a good thing, as long as you try to encourage the beneficial gut bacteria, while keeping the bad bacteria away.

And just a few simple dietary changes and food additions can make all the difference…

Eat a nutrient-dense whole foods-based diet — that includes lots of plants. Focus your daily food intake on whole foods like meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. These are all filled with quality nutrients that feed gut bacteria. And the different dietary fibers from plants provide a supercharged food source for gut bacteria as well.

Include probiotic-rich foods in your daily routine. Fermented foods are rich in beneficial lactobacilli bacteria. Sources include yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso and tempeh. Something as simple as eating yogurt can stimulate positive microbial changes within 24 hours. And eating around 7 ounces a day has been shown to ward off Enterobacteriaceae, a bacteria associated with increased inflammation.

Include prebiotic foods. Prebiotics are food for probiotics and by pairing them together you can multiply your results. Prebiotic-rich foods include chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, and green bananas.

Take probiotic supplements. Many people find it stressful to constantly think about consuming prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods, and that’s where supplements can help, as they are equally beneficial. Look for a supplement that provides large amounts of many different bacterial species, to ensure you encourage diversity.

Quit sugar and processed foods. The most important change you can make is eliminating sugar and processed foods from your diet. A typical Western diet is filled with these and has been shown time and time again to alter gut bacteria in a negative way, which may explain why chronic lifestyle diseases are currently at epidemic proportions.

Sources:
  1. Tang, et al. Gut Microbiota in Cardiovascular Health and Disease. — Circulation Research. 2017;120:1183-1196.
  2. Alvaro E, et al. Composition and metabolism of the intestinal microbiota in consumers and non-consumers of yogurt. — Br J Nutr. 2007 Jan;97(1):126-33.
  3. Yang J, et al. Gastrointestinal microbiome and breast cancer: correlations, mechanisms and potential clinical implications. — Breast Cancer. 2017 Mar;24(2):220-228.
  4. Singh RK, et al. Influence of diet on the gut microbiome and implications for human health. — Journal of Translational Medicine. 2017;15:73.

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Jedha Dening

By Jedha Dening

Jedha Dening is a qualified nutritionist (MNutr), researcher, author, freelance writer, and founder of type 2 diabetic nutrition site Diabetes Meal Plans. Her masters thesis on nutrition and inflammation was published and then presented at a national scientific conference. She has millions of words published in the health industry across various print and online publications. Having been in the field for over 15 years, she’s incredibly passionate about delving into the latest research to share the myths and truths surrounding nutrition and health. She believes when armed with the right knowledge, we’re empowered to make informed choices that can truly make a difference.