Yes, there is bacteria in your gut (or stomach region). And yes there are hundreds of species. Some of which are friendly and some of which are not.
Of these bacteria, there are four types: Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria or Proteobacteria.
Each bacteria type has a select role to play regarding your health. Some pertain to disease, while others function to support your immune system, heart, weight and other health related aspects.
How does it impact your health?
Like a coin there are two sides to gut bacteria; good and bad. When the balance of the two becomes to favour bad bacteria it causes an imbalance and there can be many negative health impacts.
One impact is weight gain. Others can be IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), heart health even brain function. The list goes on.
But the positive note is that healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome can help with these negative health impacts.
What impacts good gut bacteria?
Gut bacteria is highly responsive to what you eat and drink. A diverse diet is great for boosting a diverse and healthy gut microbiome. In saying that, much of the Western diet has been reduced to only 12 plants and five animal species. So if you get the chance, switch up how you eat and perhaps get a bit adventurous. Having a chat with your health professional is recommended for more personal information.
Additionally, Australian drinking culture doesn’t help with promoting a healthy gut. In fact, drinking frequently can cause gut dysbiosis in itself.
This is the same with antibiotics. Antibiotics, despite being important medicines that are used to treat infections and diseases caused by bad bacteria, have the role of killing all bacteria regardless of it’s good or bad nature. This is why many doctors recommend taking probiotics after a round of antibiotics – to boost your healthy gut bacteria.
How can you promote good bacteria?
According to Healthline there a five ways your can improve your gut health:
- Eat more prebiotic foods such as artichokes, bananas, asparagus, oats and apples
- Consume more probiotics
- Make time for quality sleep
- Reduce stress
- Eat foods rich in polyphenols such as green tea, dark chocolate, olive oil and whole grains.
Fermented foods are a great way to restore your gut health. This is because probiotics are formed during the fermentation process and, as we know, probiotics are key to gut health restoration.
These probiotics can therefore help with improving digestive health, booting your immune system and making it easier to digest food overall.
Other benefits of fermented foods include mental health, weight loss and a healthy heart.
Sauerkraut, Kim-chi and Kefir are three types of readily available fermented foods. When picking fermented foods do be careful as not all are created equal. Some, like Kombucha, can have high sugar levels. So read the nutrition labels just to be sure.
NOTE: Some individuals may experience side effects from the consumption of fermented foods. Most commonly this is the experience of bloating, which can occur initially due to the consumption of food with a high probiotic content.