Your gut flora or gut microbiome is made up of more than 30 trillion microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. The main role of these microorganisms is to help you process and digest your food. However, researchers are increasingly studying the role the microbiome has on brain function, mood regulation, heart health, weight loss, and gastrointestinal conditions.
A healthy gut flora goes beyond stomach health; it is believed that your gut is in constant communication with your entire body and supports many functions. But not everybody knows how to keep their gut microbiome healthy and thriving with an abundance of bacteria. If you are new to the world of gut health and probiotics, or if you already know but are looking to supercharge your gut, keep reading to find out exactly how to achieve it.
Over the last decade, probiotics have become some of the most popular dietary supplements out there. Simply put, probiotics are live and healthy bacteria and other microorganisms such as yeast that you can eat or take to improve your digestive system’s health.
Probiotics can be found in many live bacteria-rich foods such as yogurt, but nowadays you can also find them in pill form at your local supermarket or supplement store. Probiotics come with many health benefits, including:
- Immune health
- Improved digestion
- May reduce blood pressure levels
- May relieve allergies
- May improve the skin, including eczema
There is still much to know about the gut microbiome and how synthetic probiotics work; researchers are still trying to figure out their exact mechanism and how they interact with your gut and other organs. Something they have been able to figure out is that everybody has a different balance of good and bad bacteria and other microorganisms on their microbiome, so what might work for one person won’t necessarily work for the other.
We tend to associate the word ‘bacteria’ with illnesses, infections and all kinds of bad stuff, but the fact is there are actually good and bad types of bacteria. If this sounds weird, don’t be alarmed; good types of bacteria have been used for decades to create antibiotics and make fermented foods such as kombucha, kimchi, and even yogurt, There are millions of good bacteria living all over your body at all times, especially on your gut. These good bacteria act by outnumbering bad bacteria that would otherwise cause diseases and other health conditions.
The probiotics that you take either in supplement or food form are essentially the good kind of bacteria, and they work by attaching to your intestine’s walls and forming huge colonies that fight bad bacteria and other microorganisms that aren’t good for you.
The amount of CFUs you decide to take completely depends on your needs and what you want your probiotic to do for you. But before you buy a probiotic only based on the amount of CFUs it contains, you should know that there are two main types of bacteria aimed towards digestive health: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and many others that can help you with vaginal health, respiratory problems, allergies, or that may help your skin. Here is a complete clinical guide for all probiotics available in the United States and how each can help you. Remember, women and men benefit from taking specific probitoics for their gender.
Seven Foods To Naturally Boost Your Gut Flora
Bananas are known as the great source of resistant starch there is. Resistant starch, as it names suggests, is a type of starch that makes it very hard for your body to digest, making your microbiome work harder (and thus become stronger) to digest it while keeping your full for longer.
There is tons of evidence that suggest that this cruciferous vegetable is one of the healthiest in the planet. Research suggests that broccoli has been found to reduce inflammation in the colon, therefore reducing the risk of developing colon cancer and other types of gut-related cancer. Broccoli contains compounds that when broken down by the stomach helps boost your immune system and maintains a healthy balance in your microbiome.
Beans are one of the most fiber-rich foods there are; experts recommend that adult women eat 25 grams of fiber and that men 38 grams per day, however, most adults in the United States don’t even come close reaching that daily recommended amount. Beans are a really easy way to getting to that number when you consider that a cup of cooked lentils has over 15 grams of fiber and a cup of split peas contains 16.3 grams of fiber. Also, some studies have suggested that beans may feed the good bacteria on your body, keeping colonies healthy and thriving.
Similarly to beans, chickpeas are some of the highest fiber foods, packing around 14 grams of fiber on every cup. Chickpeas are great for balancing the healthy bacteria in your gut and crowding out the harmful bacteria.
Garlic is not only delicious and a great addition to almost any dish, but it also contains several compounds that are known for killing unhealthy bacteria. To get the full benefits of garlic, it is better if you eat it raw.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made up from fermented cabbage, salt, water and sometimes other vegetables such as onions and garlic and then sealed up in a glass jar for several days or even months to allow good bacteria to develop. People have been using fermentation techniques to preserve their food for thousands of years, and now researchers have discovered that fermented food is a good source of healthy bacteria. In the United States, kimchi is becoming a popular side dish in Asian restaurants; however, kimchi can be a delicious sour and spicy addition to many homemade dishes such as noodles, salad, and even rice.
Another fermented superfood, kombucha is a tea that has amazing gut restoring properties. Kombucha is made from sweetened black tea and a live probiotic culture commonly referred as “scooby,” which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Just as other fermented foods, kombucha is packed with probiotics that will colonize your gut with healthy bacteria.
This fermented cabbage side is a great source of probiotic bacteria. But it is best to make your own. This is because store-bought sauerkraut is often pasteurized, or high in preservatives, meaning healthy bacteria is killed off. It is very quick and easy to make your own sauerkraut though.
What A Healthy Gut Flora Can Do For Your Health
We are exposed to microbes and other microorganisms since the minute we are born, and many of them play a crucial role in how our body will develop and function. Having a healthy gut flora or microbiome is crucial for digesting food, controlling the immune system, regulating blood sugar, brain development, and maintaining a healthy weight.
When it comes to weight, an imbalance of gut bacteria, called dysbiosis can lead to weight gain. Several observational studies have determined that people who had more unhealthy bacteria in their gut were more likely to be obese than those with a balanced microbiome. Further, it is believed that gut dysbiosis may be an important factor in gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Research has proven that an unhealthy microbiome may lead to abdominal cramping, bloating inflammation, and constipation, all symptoms of IBS.
So now you know different ways to restore and boost your gut flora both naturally and by taking probiotics are. Taking a daily probiotic may be a great way to start building healthy bacteria colonies that you can maintain by eating healthy. Remember to choose a probiotic that will work for your specific needs and always aim for quality.
Remember that if you don’t get on with your first probiotic to try a different one. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, but with so many different types available, you are sure to find one which works for you.