All our lives we’ve heard the word bacteria and immediately squirmed over the idea of germs.
Now, in our ripe old(er) age we’ve learned a little bit more on the topic, and we know better! Not all bacteria is bad, in fact we have about 40 trillion bacteria in our bodies right now, MOST OF WHICH are in our…. (drumroll please)…GUT!
Alright, alright, we know gut bacteria sounds pretty gross, but these little microbes play a huge role in our health and we’re here to tell you how you can improve your gut health by what you eat!
Here are the top five things you can do!
- PROBIOTICS- You can consume probiotics in many forms, yogurt, kefir, kimchi or even a probiotic supplement if that works best for you. But probiotics are really important! Probiotics include “good” bacteria, they are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when consumed.
- POLYPHENOLS- Another way to have good gut bacteria is to consume foods rich in polyphenols. What are polyphenols you might ask? In laymen’s terms, they are plant compounds that can’t always be absorbed by the human cells, so they end up in your colon where they can be digested by gut bacteria. Some examples of polyphenol include cocoa/ dark chocolate, red wine, grape skins, green tea, almonds and so many more! But they had us at chocolate and red wine.
- PREBIOTICS- You’ve heard about probiotics, but have you heard about PREbiotics?
Prebiotics can promote the growth of many healthy bacteria, including bifidobacteria. Prebiotics are mainly fibers or complex carbs and are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Certain prebiotics can even reduce insulin, triglycerides and cholesterol levels in people who are obese.
- EAT DIVERSE- Eating a diverse diet consisting of different food types can lead to diverse microbiota. Unfortunately, the Western diet is not very diverse and is rich in fat and sugar. In fact, it is estimated that 75% of the world’s food is produced from only 12 plant and 5 animal species. Pretty simply put, eating a diverse diet can lead to a diverse collection of microbes which can benefit your gut health.
- SAY ‘NO’ TO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS- Artificial sweeteners are found in so many things to satisfy our sweet tooth in place of real sugar. While this might sometimes seem like a better option for calories, it’s not the better option for your overall health, and definitely can have an adverse affect on your gut bacteria. The bottom line? Artificial sweeteners can negatively affect blood sugar levels due to their effects on the gut microbiota.
In the immortal words of Sir Mix A Lot, Baby got BACteria…