If digestive imbalances and stomach disorders are bothering you, it could mean that you don’t have the right kinds of gut bacteria. Because one of the most important things microbes do for us is to help with digestion. The trillions of microorganisms that inhabit your gut have a profound impact on your mood, behavior, and overall health.1
So, harboring the beneficial microbiome can dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your brain function, and slow down age-related physical and mental decline. Unfortunately, dysbiosis (an unbalanced gut microbiome), is a common problem today for most people.
Thankfully, this can be reversed and restored. Here’s how you can improve your microbiome.
1. Stay Away From Preservatives, Food Additives, And GMOs
Avoiding genetically modified organisms and foods that contain preservatives and additives is crucial for gut health. Preservatives, which are chemically similar to detergents, are added to many processed foods to extend shelf life and improve its texture.
Research on lab mice shows that these preservatives change the mucus barrier and the microbes associated with it. Mice that consumed the preservatives had an altered bacterial composition and thinner intestinal mucus. The mice also gained weight, increased food intake, and fat mass, and had impaired glucose handling, which a sign of metabolic syndrome.2
Health risks associated with genetically modified organisms (GMO) and foods are concerned with toxins, allergens, or genetic hazards. Some researchers believe that consumption of these genetically engineered foods can cause the development of diseases, which are immune to antibiotics.3
2. Use Natural Sweeteners Instead Of Processed Sugar
Another important step in ensuring a healthy gut microbiome is to use natural sweeteners like stevia, real maple syrup, raw honey, or coconut palm sugar instead of processed sugar.
Studies have shown that the quantity of refined sugar in the diet can significantly influence gut function and the composition of bowel contents. It has also been implicated in many gastrointestinal disorders.4
Researchers have found a direct link between excess sugar consumption and obesity and cardiovascular problems worldwide. Even artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, are many times sweeter than table sugar.
Studies of rodents and humans suggest that artificial sweeteners can affect the beneficial gut microbes that help us digest food, which then leads to weight gain.5
3. Switch To Organic Fruits And Vegetables
Today, most fruits and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides to protect the crop from damage. But, these deadly chemicals also cause havoc and affect your gut health by killing the healthy bacteria.
Often, even washing them thoroughly does not remove all the harmful chemicals. Studies show that it can cause extreme disruption in human gut bacteria.6 So, ensure that you always buy organic fruits and vegetables that are not sprayed with these chemicals.
4. Minimize Hand Sanitizers And Anti-Bacterial Product Usage
Many researchers think that most people go overboard while trying to get rid of harmful bacteria. People use hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial products way too often these days. When you use a hand sanitizer to clean your hand and then eat with the same hand, these chemicals enter the body and destroy the healthy microflora in our digestive system.
Yes, it is important to eliminate the harmful bacteria. But, extensive usage of these products is also killing the beneficial bacteria. Though hand sanitizers are necessary for healthcare settings, washing your hands is a better option in most situations.7
5. Don’t Drink Chlorinated Water
Chlorine is a chemical used as a disinfectant that helps destroy harmful bacteria in water and makes it fit for drinking. But, when chlorine enters our body, it also kills the beneficial gut bacteria and upsets the balance of the microbiome.8
Studies have shown that changes in gut microbial populations caused by chlorine or other chemicals in the drinking water influence the development of human colorectal cancer.9 So, it is vital that water is filtered to remove chlorine and then consumed.
|↑1||Lawrence, Kate, and Jeannette Hyde. “Microbiome restoration diet improves digestion, cognition and physical and emotional wellbeing.” PloS one 12, no. 6 (2017): e0179017.|
|↑2||Food Additives Alter Gut Microbes, Cause Diseases in Mice. NIH Research Matters. National Institutes of Health. 2015.|
|↑3||Bawa, A. S., and K. R. Anilakumar. “Genetically modified foods: safety, risks and public concerns—a review.” Journal of food science and technology 50, no. 6 (2013): 1035-1046.|
|↑4||Kruis, W., G. Forstmaier, C. Scheurlen, and F. Stellaard. “Effect of diets low and high in refined sugars on gut transit, bile acid metabolism, and bacterial fermentation.” Gut 32, no. 4 (1991): 367-371.|
|↑5||Sweet Stuff. NIH News In Health. 2014.|
|↑6||Nicolopoulou-Stamati, Polyxeni, Sotirios Maipas, Chrysanthi Kotampasi, Panagiotis Stamatis, and Luc Hens. “Chemical pesticides and human health: the urgent need for a new concept in Agriculture.” Frontiers in public health 4 (2016).|
|↑7||Your Microbes and You. NIH News In Health. 2012.|
|↑8||El-Tawil, Ahmed Mahmoud. “Colorectal cancers and chlorinated water.” World journal of gastrointestinal oncology 8, no. 4 (2016): 402.|
|↑9||Sasada, Tatsunari, Takao Hinoi, Yasufumi Saito, Tomohiro Adachi, Yuji Takakura, Yasuo Kawaguchi, Yusuke Sotomaru et al. “Chlorinated water modulates the development of colorectal tumors with chromosomal instability and gut microbiota in Apc-deficient mice.” PloS one 10, no. 7 (2015): e0132435.|