How to boost good gut bacteria

Bacteria and other microbes (including fungi and viruses) are often thought of as sources of disease, but in reality many play an essential role in maintaining health. Your body contains trillions of microbes, most of which are beneficial. The densest population of microbes is found in the intestine, where they play a critical role in digestion, immune function, weight regulation, and vitamin production. What you eat can quickly change your microbes, but are you eating the right foods to support your good gut bacteria? This article explores how to improve your gut bacteria profile, the factors that can harm it, and whether there is a link to obesity.

What dietary patterns support good gut bacteria?

  • Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods. – A healthy gut has a diverse community of microbes, each of which prefers different foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes are beneficial for intestinal bacteria.
  • Eat more fiber – Most people eat less than they should, but foods rich in fiber help feed healthy bacteria. Examples include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. Often called “prebiotics,” they are foods that fertilize existing gut bacteria and foster a diverse community of microbes.
  • Choose extra virgin olive oil instead of other fats when you can – Contains the highest amount of microbe-friendly polyphenols.
  • Eat probiotic foods if you enjoy them – They could stimulate the growth of more microbes. Examples include foods (e.g., live yogurt, some cheeses, fermented foods) and supplements. See the later section that further explores these foods.

What dietary patterns can damage the intestinal bacteria profile?

  • Highly processed foods – These often contain ingredients that suppress “good” bacteria or increase “bad” bacteria. Examples include prepackaged cakes, cookies, candy, and processed meats.
  • A low fiber diet – Fiber is necessary to help “feed” intestinal bacteria. If your diet is low in fiber, a sudden increase can cause gas and bloating. This is less likely if you make gradual changes and drink more water.
  • Antibiotics kill both “good” and “bad” bacteria. – If you need antibiotics, be sure to focus on including plenty of foods that boost your microbes afterwards.

Claims about specific foods

There are many foods and supplements on the market that claim to help improve your gut bacteria profile. However, is there any evidence to support eating or drinking them? The following section highlights some of the common foods and what the evidence suggests.

  • Probiotic supplements – They could be useful but it has not been proven that they reach the intestine intact. Some probiotics have well-established effects but are very expensive.
  • Fermented foods – These foods, for example kimchi, miso, kombucha and many pickles, contain bacteria, but we cannot be sure that the bacteria they contain actually reach the intestine. However, in countries where these types of foods are frequently consumed, people appear to have better intestinal health and fewer intestinal diseases (although other factors could be responsible). Fermented foods can be cheap and easy to make at home, so eat them if you like them. Mass-produced pickles use vinegar instead of traditional fermentation methods, so they don’t have the same benefits. Fermented foods are also good sources of other nutrients, such as:
    • Kefir is also a good source of calcium.
    • Miso (made from fermented soybeans) is also a good source of copper.
    • Tempeh (also made from fermented soybeans) is rich in protein.
    • Sauerkraut is also a good source of fiber and iron.
    • Kimchi (made from fermented vegetables such as cabbage and radish) is rich in vitamins A, B, and C.
  • raw milk – The variety of microbes found in raw milk is very similar to that of pasteurized milk; It’s just that there are many more in raw milk. There is a strong correlation between the consumption of raw milk in childhood and a lower incidence of allergies. This could be due to the large number of microbes in raw milk, but we can’t be sure. Children who drink raw milk often live on farms, which also provides microbial advantages. However, raw or unpasteurized milk can contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
  • Sourdough breads – These breads are slowly fermented using a wide range of bacteria and fungi found naturally in the air and ingredients. Commercial yeast, used in most breads, is a unique strain that makes bread rise much faster. It is not known whether the additional microbes in the sourdough survive baking. Many people report that they find sourdough easier to digest than other breads, but the long fermentation process is likely to be more beneficial. This is because the microbes have had more time to break down protein chains that could otherwise cause digestive problems. It also takes longer to digest, which is good for blood sugar levels.
  • traditionally produced cheese – They contain a wide variety of probiotics (natural bacteria used in cheese production). Some studies have found that these can benefit health, but more research is required. We cannot be sure that the bacteria in some cheeses survive digestion long enough to be beneficial. However, it is possible that other properties of cheese help preserve bacteria during digestion. Mass-produced cheeses do not have this potential benefit due to the way they are made.
  • Traditionally produced yogurts, “live” yogurts and yogurt drinks – These contain probiotic cultures, but it is not clear whether they survive the acidic environment of the stomach and reach the intestines intact. Some yogurts indicate the cultures used to make them in the ingredient list, and diversity is often beneficial. Stick to natural yogurts; Fruit yogurts often contain sugar and additives, which could negate any potential health benefits. Some yogurt drinks contain very high amounts of bacteria that are considered health-promoting, many more than are found in regular yogurt. However, they can also contain a lot of sugar and be expensive.

Is there a link between gut bacteria and obesity?

While research over the past 30 years has clarified the role of imbalance between energy intake and expenditure, unhealthy lifestyle, and genetic variability in the development of obesity, the possible link between gut bacteria and Obesity is a hot topic that sparks a lot of research. is currently taking place. It has been proposed that the composition and metabolic functions of gut bacteria and microbes may affect the development of obesity. Simply put, it is possible that if you have a poor gut bacteria profile, this could be a cause of obesity (probably not the only cause, but certainly a causal factor).

There is evidence of a link between gut bacteria and microbes and obesity in both childhood and adults. There are several genetic, metabolic and inflammatory mechanisms involved in this link. Studies show, for example, that people with prolonged weight gain have a lower diversity of microbiota in the gut. The imbalance between “good” and “bad” bacteria can negatively affect the regulation of gut hormones and pro-inflammatory mechanisms. This, in turn, may play a role in obesity and diet-induced metabolic complications.

Bottom line: If you are obese or gaining weight, take the opportunity to review your diet and make changes to help improve your gut bacteria profile.

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