There are trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes in your body. Most of them are found in your intestines, especially in a small part of the large intestine called the cecum. Collectively, these gut microbes are known as your gut microbiome.
The gut microbiome comprises trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material that lives in your intestinal tract, and each of these carries out different functions in the body. These microorganisms, mainly containing bacteria, are involved in functions critical to your wellbeing and health. These bacteria exist in your digestive system and play a key role in digesting your food, and they also help absorb and synthesize nutrients.
Gut bacteria is involved in many other essential processes that extend beyond your gut, including your body weight, metabolism, and immune regulation, as well as your brain functions and mood. Many factors affect the type and amount of bacteria that we host. Although most of us belong to a particular ‘enterotype’ – like having a specific blood type – every person has a unique bacterial footprint.
How to keep your gut microbiome healthy?
1. Take probiotics
Probiotics are living bacteria that can help restore the gut to a healthy state after dysbiosis. These are available in drug stores, health food stores, and online.
Research from PubMed Central has suggested that taking probiotics can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome and prevent gut inflammation and other intestinal problems.
2. Eat prebiotic fibre
Probiotics consume non-digestible carbohydrates called prebiotics. This process encourages the beneficial bacteria to multiply in the gut.
Prebiotic-rich foods include:
- Jerusalem artichokes
3. Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods contain a natural source of probiotics. Fermented foods contain healthy bacteria, mainly Lactobacilli, and can reduce disease-causing species in the gut.
Consuming fermented foods regularly may help your gut microbiome healthy:
- Fermented vegetables
4.Eat less sugar and sweeteners
Overeating sugar or artificial sweeteners can cause gut dysbiosis, an imbalance of gut microbes. Some evidence from PubMed Centralsuggests that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame increase blood sugar by stimulating unhealthy bacteria such as Enterobacteriaceae in the gut microbiome.
5. Eat a vegetarian diet
Due to its high levels of prebiotic fiber, a vegetarian diet can improve gut health. A vegetarian diet can help reduce disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli and inflammation and cholesterol.
6. Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily
Only take antibiotics when medically necessary because antibiotics kill many good and bad bacteria in the gut microbiome, potentially contributing to weight gain and antibiotic resistance.
7. Reduce stress
Stress management is essential for many aspects of health, including gut health.
In humans, a variety of stressors can adversely affect the health of the gut, including:
- Lack of sleep
- Psychological stress
- Disruption of circadian rhythm
- Environmental pressure such as extreme heat, cold, or noise
Some stress management methods include deep breathing exercises, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Eating a healthy diet, sleeping well and regularly exercising can also reduce stress levels, and they all help keep your gut healthy.
8. Avoid smoking
Smoking affects the health of the gut as well as the health of the heart and lungs. It also dramatically increases the risk of cancer.
Smoking may increase the risk of intestinal and systemic conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
What makes your gut microbiomes unhealthy?
There are over 100 trillion bacteria in the human gut, called the “gut flora.” Having a healthy gut flora is especially necessary for your overall health.
Many diets, lifestyles, and other environmental factors can adversely affect your gut microbiomes.
Lack of Prebiotics in the Diet.
Prebiotics are a kind of fiber that passes within the body undigested and promotes the growth and movement of friendly gut bacteria. Foods rich in prebiotic fiber can play a role in lowering insulin and cholesterol levels. Daily prebiotic supplementation promotes healthy bacteria Bifidobacterium and Faecalibacterium for up to three months and stimulates the production of short-chain fatty acids. Lack of them in the diet can be detrimental to the overall health of your digestive system.
Not Eating a Diverse Range of Foods
A wholesome diet provides your gut with various nutrients that help promote the growth of a type of bacteria, resulting in more diverse gut flora. A diet lacking in different whole foods can result in a loss of gut flora diversity. It may have many adverse health effects. Lack of diversity in gut bacteria limits recovery from harmful effects, such as infections or antibiotics.
Antibiotics affect both good and bad bacteria. Even an antibiotic treatment can cause harmful changes in the formation and diversity of the gut flora, even in short-term use cases.
Smoking damages almost every organ of the body and increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. Cigarette smoking is also one of the major environmental risk factors for inflammatory bowel disease, a disease caused by inflammation of the digestive tract.
Too Much Stress
Too much stress has been shown (PubMed Central) to overcome gut flora diversity and alter gut flora profiles by increasing harmful bacteria like Clostridium and reducing beneficial bacteria like Lactobacilli. In the gut, stress can increase sensitivity and reduce blood flow.
Lack of regular physical activity and not getting enough sleep.
Lack of regular physical activity inhibits the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Akkermansia, and also affects guts health and increases weight, stress levels, and chronic diseases.
Our bodies have a 24-hour internal clock called the circadian rhythm. The gut also seems to follow a daily circadian rhythm. Sleep deprivation, late work shifts, and eating late at night can disrupt your body’s clock and have harmful effects on your gut bacteria.
A 2016 study (shown in PubMed Central) was the first to discover the effects of short-term sleep deprivation on the formation of gut flora.