The Effect Of Diet And Lifestyle On Your Gut Flora
Over the past few years, there is a significant rise in interest over gut health and the effect that our diet and lifestyle choices have on friendly bacteria. This is because the food that we eat can affect the composition and activity of the millions of bacteria that reside in our gut, which in turn can influence our overall health.
Large scale research studies have shown that maintaining a thriving gut flora aids in improving digestive functions (thus facilitating better absorption of nutrients) and keeping harmful bacteria away, by building a strong immune system. There is scientific evidence that any imbalance in the gut microbial populations due to inadequate diet or poor lifestyle choices, can act as contributing factors for obesity, insulin resistance and cardiovascular and inflammatory disorders.
The Role Of Diet And Lifestyle The majority of the bacteria found within the Gl tract, especially in the large intestine are responsible for breaking down of the undigested food components (carbohydrates, fibre and proteins). In addition, they are responsible for releasing beneficial bioactive compounds such as vitamins, short-chain fatty acids and lipids.
Dietary fibre acts as the fermentable substrate for the microbes and the by-product of this fermentation process is short-chain fatty acids which reduces inflammation and lowers the intestinal pH, thus inhibiting the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria.
Protein foods are the major source of nitrogen for the microbes. However, if consumed in excess, it can result in overproduction of harmful metabolites such as ammonia and hydrogen sulphide. Observations have also revealed that high fat diets can negatively affect gut health through the release of carcinogenic secondary bile acids and pro-inflammatory compounds.
5 Tips To Improve Gut Flora
Dietary strategies such as including fibre-dense foods (whole grains, fruits and vegetables) and probiotics such as yogurt, dhokla or kimchi are considered to be best for maintaining a healthy gut flora.
Avoid consumption of refined and processed foods.
Add prebiotic foods to your diet, These are foods that promote growth of friendly bacteria in the diet. Oats, bananas, lentils, onions and artichokes are high in prebiotics (specialized plant fibre that helps nourish the good bacteria).
Cut down on alcohol and adopt de-stressing techniques for robust gut health.
Higher fitness level is positively associated with a diverse gut flora. Hence, being physically active will ensure a happy gut and a healthy body too.