Gut bacteria and your health
Did you know that our body is loaded with around 40 trillion bacteria, the majority of which are found in our gut? Most of these bacteria are good for us. Healthy, or ‘good’, gut bacteria play an important role in our well-being. They not only help digest foods, but also play an important role in our metabolism and physical health.
The bacteria are found mainly in our large intestine, and along with important viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms, they are referred to as the gut microbiome. Having a healthy microbiome is called equilibrium. Research suggests that when the healthy balance is disrupted you are more likely to have things like diabetes, obesity, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and colon cancer.
Like a fingerprint, each person’s mix of gut bacteria is unique. Bacteria live throughout your body, but those in the gut influence the body’s metabolism, mood, and immune system.
Many factors can impact the type of bacteria found in your digestive tract.
How can you keep your gut bacteria healthy?
- Eat a wide range of foods – have a nutritious diet of fresh, whole foods rich in fiber. Choose mainly plant sources like fruits, veggies, legumes, beans, and whole grains.
- Avoid a diet rich in sugar – this can harm certain types of gut bacteria, affecting the balance of the microbiome.
- Eat fermented foods – foods like plain yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut are great for your gut health. These fermented foods can improve your balance of good bacteria and reduce the amount of bacteria that cause intestinal diseases.
- Eat food rich in polyphenols – found in cocoa and dark chocolate, red wine, green tea, and almonds. Red wine that has been shown to increase levels of beneficial bacteria in people with metabolic syndrome.
- Limit the use of antibiotics – antibiotics can eliminate healthy bacteria along with problematic bacteria. Use only when needed as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
- Regular exercise – can encourage the growth of a variety of good intestinal bacteria and make the bacterial mix more diverse, and in return reduce the risk of disease.
The microbiome continues to be researched and tested. We may soon be able to take a drug or supplement made from a certain strain of gut bacteria to reduce the risk of, or even cure certain diseases. But for now, a healthy diet and regular exercise should help keep your gut healthy and balanced!
The articles provided on this website are for informational purposes only. In addition, it is written for a generic audience and not a specific case; therefore, this information should not be used for diagnostic or medical treatment. This site does not attempt to replace the patient-physician relationship and fully recommends the reader to seek out the best care from his/her physician and/or diabetes educator.