The gastrointestinal tract, commonly known as gut, is responsible for breaking down and absorbing the food you eat. It comprises of the stomach, the small and large intestines.1
Playing an overall role in the functioning of immunity, good bacteria in the gut also keep the bad bacteria in control, keep harmful bacteria from spreading in the body, neutralize toxins, and ensure efficient digestion of food. These activities of the good bacteria can be affected due to antibiotics, alcohol, improper sleep and diet, and smoking.
Things You Didn’t Know Are Harming Your Gut Bacteria
Here are 7 things that affect the functioning of your gut:
1. Excessive Alcohol Intake
Regular consumption of alcohol can negatively impact your health. Furthermore, alcohol intake affects gut bacteria. It results in gut dysbiosis, alteration and imbalance in the gut bacteria that causes the good bacteria to be removed by the bad bacteria.2
As the good bacteria is edged out, there is a disruption in the digestion process and other basic functions in the body. With the improper functioning of the bacteria in the gut against the “bad” disease causing bacteria, your immune system is also affected.
2. Taking Antibiotics
Antibiotics help your body fight against diseases caused by bacteria.3 Normally, the number of beneficial or good bacteria in the gut is more than the bad bacteria. This good bacteria keeps the bad bacteria under control. When you take antibiotics, most of the bacteria in the gut are killed and the bad bacteria being more resistant to the good bacteria, become more in number.
Taking antibiotics can lead to diarrhea as the beneficial bacteria are few in number and the nutrients are flushed out instead of being processed correctly. Therefore, antibiotics can negatively impact the equilibrium in your gut.4
3. Insufficient Sleep
Sleep is important for you to carry out your daily activities, and maintain a healthy life. Sleep also helps to maintain the balance of bacteria in your gut. Disrupted circadian rhythm or body clock can affect the gut bacteria and lead to gut dysbiosis and in turn, lead to metabolic disorders.
Improper or insufficient sleep can help the bad bacteria in your gut to take over. This leads to unhealthy food choices and overeating, that could result in weight gain or diabetes.5 Sleep well, avoid processed food and food with additives and preservatives to keep your gut healthy.
4. Lack Of Physical Activity
A sedentary lifestyle contributes to many diseases. Physical activity is important to improve your quality of life and provide health benefits.
Physical exercise can positively modify gut bacteria and increase the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Additionally, it can help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity as the metabolism is improved.6
5. Improper Diet
A wholesome diet ensures the normal functioning of the body and promotes good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotic fiber present in raw onion, garlic, and asparagus, is a fiber that leaves the body undigested but nourishes and promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Eating these foods can keep your immune-function normal, and also aid digestion.
Eating these foods can keep your immune-function normal, and also aid digestion.
6. Cigarette Smoking
Smoking is commonly associated with cancer and lung problems, however, smoking also influences normal gut function.
Reducing or quitting smoking is linked to an increase in diversity of the gut bacteria that benefits your body.7
7. Improper Stress Management
With the fight-or-flight mode in action when you are stressed, the blood flow to the gut reduces. This is why your digestive system and immune system are affected in the case of a stressful situation.
Stress management is important as the good bacteria is reduced when you are stressed, increasing your susceptibility to diseases and illnesses.
|↑1||Gastrointestinal tract. MedlinePlus.|
|↑2||Schippa, Serena, and Maria Pia Conte. “Dysbiotic events in gut microbiota: impact on human health.” Nutrients 6, no. 12 (2014): 5786-5805.|
|↑3||Uses of antibiotics. National Health Service.|
|↑4||Hahn Mari J. Gut Guide 101: Three Weeks to Better Digestion and Increased Energy. BookBaby, 2014.|
|↑5||Stevenson Shawn. Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success. Hay House, Inc, 2016.|
|↑6||Bermon, Stéphane, Bernardo Petriz, Alma Kajeniene, Jonato Prestes, Lindy Castell, and Octavio L. Franco. “The microbiota: an exercise immunology perspective.” Exerc Immunol Rev 21, no. 70 (2015): 9.|
|↑7||Biedermann, Luc, Jonas Zeitz, Jessica Mwinyi, Eveline Sutter-Minder, Ateequr Rehman, Stephan J. Ott, Claudia Steurer-Stey et al. “Smoking cessation induces profound changes in the composition of the intestinal microbiota in humans.” PloS one 8, no. 3 (2013): e59260.|