Promoting good gut bacteria to boost your health

Gut Bacteria

It’s no surprise that our guts play a major role in how we feel from day to day. If we eat a balanced diet, we most likely feel well, have energy and don’t notice our stomachs. But if we make bad choices, eat too much (or not enough) of certain things, we’ll have stomachaches and lower energy – and will literally hate our own guts.

Kombucha and probiotic drinks stock the shelves of every supermarket in recent years, flaunting the benefits they can have on the gut. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill, food or drink to give you a healthy gut. So, what can we do to ensure our gut is full of lots of good bacteria? We asked Registered Dietitian Nicole Hahn, from Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, for her recommendation.

It goes back to the tried and true recommendations for overall good health:

  • Eat a variety or diverse base of foods:
    • Plant-based and high-fiber food will provide food sources for the good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as promote bowel regularity;
    • Plant-based foods encompass your fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains (wheat, barley, rice, etc.);
    • Prebiotics (food for probiotics) come from foods like raw garlic, raw or cooked onions, bananas, wheat flour, raw asparagus and many others.
  • Limit your overall sugar and saturated fat intake. 
  • Include some fermented foods into your daily diet. These include foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, etc. The lactobacilli in these foods help keep harmful gut bacteria at bay in the intestines.
  • Eat bright colored foods. Polyphenols from fruits and veggies that are rich in color, such as blueberries, grapes, eggplant, broccoli and chocolate, may also help promote good gut bacteria and decrease bad gut bacteria.
  • Practice good food hygiene. Washing fruits and vegetables, cooking foods thoroughly and storing foods at proper temperatures can help limit one’s exposure to harmful bacteria that can be introduced into the GI tract, causing episodes of gastroenteritis.
  • Maybe take a probiotic supplement. This may be beneficial for some, but more research is needed for more generalized guidelines. Talk to your physician before trying any new supplements.

There is no magic fix to give you a healthy gut. So, keep your gut and those microflorae happy by choosing food wisely and eating pre- and probiotic foods. If you continue to have stomach issues and are not sure what is causing your symptoms, consider keeping a food diary. Use it to log what you eat and how you feel. Take that to your physician, and he or she can help pinpoint what might be causing your discomfort or pain. Again, always talk with your physician before introducing any new supplements. 

 
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