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8 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR GUT BACTERIA, BASED ON SCIENCE

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

We have extracted some information below that is very much based on science. Words in bold and underlined, provide links to further specific article.

Many factors, including the foods you eat, can affect the health of your gut, including the type of bacteria it contains. The best way to get a healthy gut is to eat a fresh, balanced diet.

There are around 100 trillion bacteria in your body, most of which are found in your gut.

Collectively, they are known as your gut microbiome, and they’re incredibly important for overall health. However, certain types of bacteria in your intestines can also contribute to many diseases.


Here are 9 science-based ways to improve your gut bacteria.


1. Eat a diverse range of foods


There are hundreds of species of bacteria in your intestines, each of which plays a specific role in health and requires different nutrients for growth.


Generally speaking, a diverse microbiome is considered a healthy one. This is because the more species of bacteria you have, the more health benefits they may be able to contribute to.


A diet consisting of different food types can lead to a more diverse microbiome.


Unfortunately, the traditional Western diet is not very diverse and is rich in fat and sugar. In fact, an estimated 75% of the world’s food is produced from only 12 plant and 5 animal species.


However, diets in certain rural regions are often more diverse and richer in different plant sources.

SUMMARY

Eating a diverse diet rich in whole foods can lead to a diverse microbiome, which is beneficial for your health.


Tibico Apple Crisp Water Kefir

2. Eat lots of vegetables, legumes, beans, and fruit


Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of nutrients for a healthy microbiome.


They are high in fibre, which your body can’t digest. However, certain bacteria in your gut can digest fibre, which stimulates their growth.


Beans and legumes also contain very high amounts of fibre.


Some high fibre foods that are good for your gut bacteria include:

  • raspberries

  • artichokes

  • green peas

  • broccoli

  • chickpeas

  • lentils

  • beans

  • whole grains

  • bananas

  • apples

One study found that following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevented the growth of some disease-causing bacteria. Apples, artichokes, blueberries, almonds, and pistachios have also all been shown to increase Bifidobacteria, in humans


Bifidobacteria are considered beneficial bacteria, as they can help prevent intestinal inflammation and enhance gut health.


SUMMARY

Many fruits and vegetables are high in fibre. Fibre promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including specific types such as Bifidobacteria.


Tibico Water Kefirs

3. Eat fermented foods

Fermented foods have undergone fermentation, a process in which the sugars they contain are broken down by yeast or bacteria.


Some examples of fermented foods are:

  • water kefir

  • yogurt

  • kimchi

  • fermented krauts and sauerkraut

  • milk kefir

  • kombucha

  • tempeh

Many of these foods are rich in lactobacilli, a type of bacteria that can benefit your health.


Research shows that people who eat a fermented foods regularly appear to have more lactobacilli in their intestines and a stronger immunity. These people also have less Enterobacteriaceae, which is a type of bacteria associated with inflammation and a number of chronic conditions.

However, to reap the gut health benefits, make sure the label reads “contains live active cultures.”


SUMMARY

Fermented foods can benefit the microbiome by enhancing its function and reducing the abundance of disease-causing bacteria in the intestines.


Tibco Pineapple, Ginger and Chilli Kraut

4. Eat prebiotic foods


Prebiotics are foods that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.


They are mainly fibre or complex carbs that human cells cannot digest. Instead, certain species of bacteria in the gut break them down and use them for fuel.


Many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain prebiotics, but they can also be found on their own.

Resistant starch can also be a prebiotic. This type of starch is not absorbed in the small intestine and passes into the large intestine, where the microbiota break it down.


Many studies have shown that prebiotics can promote the growth of several types of beneficial bacteria, including Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.


Certain prebiotics have also been shown to reduce insulin, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels in people with obesity, which could be beneficial for the prevention of conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.


SUMMARY

Prebiotics promote the growth of several types of beneficial bacteria. Studies suggest that prebiotics could also reduce risk factors for certain health conditions by decreasing levels of insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol.


5. If you can, breastfeed for at least 6 months


A baby’s microbiome begins to properly develop at birth. However, studies suggest that babies may be exposed to some bacteria even before birth.


It is also now proven that during a vaginal canal birth beneficial bacteria are passed from mother to baby as part of the child's microbiome development.


During the first 2 years of life, an infant’s microbiome is continuously developing and is rich in beneficial bacteria which can digest the sugars found in breast milk.


Many studies have shown that infants who are fed formula have an altered microbiome with fewer beneficial bacteria than infants who are breastfed (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).

Studies are now linking ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) to the microbiome development in early years.


What’s more, breastfeeding is also associated with lower rates of allergies, obesity, and other health conditions that may be due to differences in the gut microbiota (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).


Studies are now linking ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) to the microbiome development in early years.


SUMMARY

Breastfeeding helps an infant develop a healthy microbiome, which may help protect against certain health conditions later in life.


6. Eat whole grains


Whole grains contain lots of fibre and non-digestible carbs, such as beta-glucan. These carbs are not absorbed in the small intestine and instead make their way to the large intestine to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.


Research suggests that whole grains can promote the growth of Bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and Bacteroidetes in humans. (32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).


In these studies, whole grains also increased feelings of fullness and reduced inflammation and certain risk factors for heart disease.


However, keep in mind that some research shows that gluten-containing grains — such as wheat, barley, and rye — may actually negatively impact gut health by increasing intestinal permeability and inflammation in some people (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source).


While this mostly applies to those with celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten, more research is needed to determine whether eating grains that contain gluten may also alter the gut microbiome in healthy adults without these conditions.


SUMMARY

Whole grains contain non-digestible carbs that can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria within the gut microbiome. These changes to the gut flora may improve certain aspects of metabolic health.


7. Eat foods rich in polyphenols


Polyphenols are plant compounds that have many health benefits, including reductions in blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and oxidative stress (41Trusted Source).


Human cells can’t always digest polyphenols. Because they aren’t absorbed efficiently, most polyphenols make their way to the colon, where they are digested by gut bacteria (42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source).


Some examples of foods rich in polyphenols are:

  • cocoa and dark chocolate

  • red wine

  • grape skins

  • green tea

  • almonds

  • onions

  • blueberries

  • broccoli

Polyphenols from cocoa can increase the amount of Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in humans and reduce the quantity of Clostridia (44Trusted Source).


The polyphenols in red wine have similar effects and have even been shown to increase levels of beneficial bacteria in people with metabolic syndrome (46Trusted Source).


SUMMARY

Polyphenols can’t be digested efficiently by human cells, but they are efficiently broken down by the gut microbiota. They may improve several health outcomes related to heart disease and inflammation.


8. Increase your intake of probiotics


Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that provide a specific health benefit when consumed.


Probiotics benefit your health by changing the overall composition of the microbiome and supporting your metabolism.


Numerous studies have found the effectiveness of probiotics in altering the microbiome. Probiotics have their strongest effects when restoring the microbiome to a healthy state after it had been compromised (49Trusted Source).


Nevertheless, some studies have shown that probiotics can improve the functioning of certain gut bacteria, as well as the specific types of chemicals they produce (50Trusted Source).


You can increase your intake of probiotics by consuming more probiotic-rich foods, including fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt.


Alternatively, you can consider using a probiotic supplement. However, be sure to talk with your doctor before starting supplementation, especially if you are taking other medications or have any underlying health conditions.


SUMMARY

Probiotics can significantly change the composition of the microbiome and benefit people with gut health ailments. The also improve the microbiome function and help restore the microbiome to good health in those with certain health conditions.

The bottom line

Your gut bacteria are extremely important for many aspects of health.

Many studies have now shown that a disrupted microbiome can lead to numerous chronic diseases.

The best way to maintain a healthy microbiome is to eat a range of fresh, whole foods, fermented foods and naturally fermented probiotics


Just one thing

Try this today: Fermented foods are highly nutritious and can be a great way to add diversity to your diet while enhancing gut health.

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