Are you taking proper care of your gut? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is no. In fact, most Americans are completely unaware of what gut health is and why it matters. In this article, we will go over what gut bacteria is, what the signs of a leaky gut are, and how you can improve your gut health through your diet.
What is Gut Bacteria?
Whenever we hear the word ‘bacteria’ our brains immediately think of the evil kind that likes to invade our bodies and make us sick. However, the gut itself is home to trillions upon trillions of bacteria. When they are paired with other organisms such as viruses and fungi, they become microbiota (mai-kruh-bai-ow-tuh) or the microbiome.
The mix of bacteria in your body is unique to you. It’s determined partly by your mother’s microbiota and partly by your diet and lifestyle. Between 300 to 500 different kinds containing nearly 2 million genes live in your gut. They line your entire digestive system, but most live in your intestines and colon. They help process food and affect everything from your metabolism to your mood to your immune system.
What Are the Signs of a Leaky Gut?
Your gut is more than the thing that pokes out after you had a big meal. It is very complex with many different parts working together to keep itself healthy. In fact, experts believe that your gut plays a role in keeping your immune system healthy, your skin healthy, and your mood in order. As you can see, keeping your gut healthy is critical. Here are some signs that your gut may be unhealthy:
- An upset stomach - Bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut
- High-sugar diets - If you eat a lot of sugar, chances are your diet is decreasing the number of good bacteria in your gut
- Weight fluctuations - If you notice yourself gaining or losing weight without any major lifestyle changes it could be due to an unhealthy gut
- Sleep disturbances - Issues falling asleep and staying asleep are also linked with an unhealthy gut
- Food intolerances - Food intolerances are the result of difficulty digesting certain foods. This can be caused by an unhealthy gut
As you may have already been able to piece together, these symptoms are also common with other diseases and illnesses. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to speak with a doctor. They will be able to diagnose your issues and determine the proper steps moving forward.
How Do You Kill Bacteria in Your Digestive System?
Taking proper care of your gut is a great way to increase your chances of a long and healthy life. There are somewhere around 40 TRILLION bacteria in your body, most of which are in your intestines. Some of these bacteria are healthy for you while others can contribute to diseases and illness. The main way to improve your gut health is through your diet. We will go further into detail regarding the specific gut health foods to eat and to avoid later in the article. For the time being, here are some ways you can improve your gut health:
- Practice a balanced diet - The more diverse your diet is the more diverse your microbiota will be. A diverse microbiota is considered to be a healthy one. The more species of bacteria you have, the greater the number of health benefits they may be able to contribute to
- Fruits and vegetables - Ever since you were a little kid you have been taught the importance of fruits and vegetables. We’re here to hammer it through your head once again. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of nutrients for a healthy microbiota
- Fermented foods - Fermented foods are foods altered by microbes
- Don’t eat too many artificial sweeteners - Artificial sweeteners can increase blood sugar and can impair insulin response
- Breastfeed for at least six months - Recent research suggests that babies may be exposed to bacteria before birth. After birth, it’s important that they are breastfed for at least six months. This will help increase the number of good bacteria. Breastfeeding is also associated with lower rates of allergies, obesity, and other diseases that may be due to differences in the gut microbiota
Recognizing the signs of a healthy gut can help you make sure everything is running smoothly. If you are experiencing healthy bowel movements, and good overall health, chances are you’re experiencing good gut health.
What Foods are Prebiotics?
If you’re looking to improve your gut health through your diet - which you should - you need a diet that is high in prebiotics. Prebiotics are types of dietary fiber that help the friendly bacteria in your gut. It also helps fight off the unhealthy types of bacteria that can lead to the leaky gut symptoms we touched on earlier. Here are some examples of healthy prebiotic foods that can help with your gut health:
It’s very important that you don’t confuse prebiotics with probiotics. It seems obvious but you would be shocked by how often this happens.
What are the Best Probiotics for Gut Health?
Just like the other key nutrients we need in our diets, getting the right amount of prebiotics in our diet can be difficult; it’s even more difficult for those who don’t meticulously count their nutrients before eating. In this instance, leaning on supplements to get the probiotics that you need isn’t a bad choice. Here’s what to look out for when looking for the right supplement:
- Find a product that is well researched and tested
- Monitor the CFU’s; most experts recommend anywhere between five and 10 billion per dose
- Make sure it’s stored correctly
- Look for third-party verification
When it comes to finding a supplement, the most important thing is that you do your research. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you’re buying a product from a brand you don’t trust.
Supplements Can Help
One supplement that can help encourage positive gut health is spermidine. This is because spermidine helps induce something called autophagy. This is the body’s process of replacing old and potentially damaged cell parts with newer, healthier ones. Autophagy literally means ‘self-eat.’
This process helps keep you feeling and looking young while also dramatically lowering your chances of developing aging diseases such as Parkison’s and Alzheimer’s. While it is possible to get your recommended daily intake of spermidine through your diet, it’s recommended to take supplements so you ensure you get the right dose. Simply taking your supplements with your dinner is a great way to remember to take spermidine supplements every night.