5 Science-based Ways to Improve Your Gut Bugs

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in your gut. Science shows they strongly influence your health in many ways. Keeping your gut probiotics health is critical.

Imagine your digestive tract like a lawn or a garden...

Here are 5 ways to improve your gut health. 

How to improve your gut health 

The greenery is your healthy gut bacteria and the fiber in your diet is their fertilizer. Gut bacteria use fibers that you cannot digest as their food.

And what scientists are now showing is that your diet is the best way to take care of your gut bacteria.

Your gut bacteria influence your health and you in turn influence them with what you eat.

Interestingly, your genes have very little to do with which microbes live in the gut or if they thrive. 

Looking after the bugs in your gut is like lawn care and here are 5 things you can do to improve your gut microbiota:

 1. Reseed your gut garden with probiotics

     Restoring your gut with probiotic bacteria is important if you've taken antibiotics or have been diagnosed with poor gut health.

    • All probiotics are not the same. 
    • A good probiotic should:
      1. Include beneficial live microbes like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria that are supported by well-conducted studies in humans.
      2. Clearly tell you how many live organisms (colony forming units or CFUs) were present at manufacture as well as on the expiration date. 
      3. List the genus (example: Bifidobacterium), species (example: longum) and most importantly, the strain (example: Rosell-175).
      4. Provide an effective dose used in clinical studies all the way to the end of the product's shelf life.

    Bacteria contained in probiotics should be found in the microbiota of healthy people.

    A wide variety of fermented foods and probiotic supplements are the best ways of planting your friendly gut microbes.

     2. Fertilize the gut garden with prebiotics

    Your gut lawn needs fertilizer for healthy growth. That fertilizer is a fiber called prebiotics.

    Even though this is listed second (after probiotics), we believe this may be the most important thing you can do for your gut health. 

    Prebiotics are food for probiotics. They are non-digestible plant fibers that help your gut bacteria grow and fight against bad bacteria (pathogens).

    Since we have a huge variety of gut microbes, you also need a variety of fiber types in your diet for good gut health. Different bacteria living in different sections of the gut require different prebiotic fibers to thrive. 

    A diet rich in prebiotic fibers may be far more important than taking probiotic supplements. If you feel you are not consuming enough prebiotic rich foods, you may use prebiotic supplements

    • Fiber isn't just to make you, umm, go.
    • Prebiotic fiber can help improve many aspects of your health beyond helping with constipation.
    • It helps you improve gut-related conditions that protect your brain.

    We lack the enzymes needed to digest dietary fibers, so they arrive almost intact in our large intestines where they act as fuel for good bacteria.

    Caution: probiotic supplements that claim to have prebiotic fiber as well, do not have enough prebiotics. Nowhere near enough.

    Be sure to always drink water with prebiotics.

      3. Enrich the gut with powerful nutrients

       Beyond planting your gut garden with probiotics and fertilizing it with prebiotics, you should also support your gut garden with healthy nutrients including:

      • Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood and fish oil.
      • Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices (including Turmeric and Quercetin).
      • Plant polyphenols found in colorful veggies, coffee, tea, and fruits. Polyphenols are also prebiotics.
      • Collagen and bone broth help nourish gut lining. 

      4. Pull the weeds in your lawn by avoiding unhealthy foods and additives (some of which may surprise you)

      A diet rich in some foods may fuel the grown of unhealthy gut bacteria. Try to avoid them (yeah, that's easier said than done...so, at least, decrease as much as you can):

      • Processed foods.
      • White grains (white rice and bread), sodas and sugar.
      • Fried foods. These are often cooked in seed oils like soy or corn oil that are rich in Omega-6 that can contribute to inflammation. 
      • Antimicrobial compounds added to preserve food during storage (including emulsifiers common in ice creams) and artificial sweeteners.
      • Alcohol.

      These are not meant to be strict rules. Instead of committing to avoiding these foods 100% of the time, aim for 80%.

      If you really gotta have some Ben & Jerry's occasionally, cut yourself some slack.

      The thing is you shouldn’t forget to reseed and fertilize your gut lawn with probiotics, prebiotics, and powerful nutrients on a regular basis.

      5. Exercise more

      Bet you've never heard that advice before.

      The truth is, we keep finding new benefits of simply moving about.

      Emerging research suggests that exercise improves our gut microbiota for the better. Many benefits of exercise may be due to positive changes in the composition of our gut microbiota.

      • Researchers noticed improvements in the gut microbiota after only a few weeks of exercise.
      • Unfortunately, microbiota returned to its original state after exercise was stopped.

      Bottom-line:

      • The health of your gut microbiota is crucial if you want to stay healthy. Start by seeding your gut garden with probiotics and fertilizing it with prebiotics.
      • Enrich your gut with powerful nutrients such as Omega-3s, anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, and plant polyphenols.
      • Limit processed foods, white grains, sodas, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol.
      • Exercise more - it will increase beneficial gut microbes.

       

      Stuff that must be said:

      We sell many of the supplements mentioned in this article on this website. It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that we do not make claims that taking our supplement will treat, cure or prevent any disease.

      You may need medical care and/or prescription drugs. Most of the supplements discussed above may be taken with prescription drugs. Do not make these decisions by yourself. Talk to your doctor about it. 

      Supplements may help, but supplements alone will not restore you to complete health. We think supplements are a small piece of the health puzzle. You cannot outrun a bad diet and inactivity with pills. Most of the heavy lifting involved in restoring your health will have to come from you in the form of healthy eating and lifestyle corrections. In these articles, we are merely sharing our excitement about nutritional science and doing our best to translate dense science into easy-to-read English. We geek out on nutrition science and we think you will too. We hope it makes you a more informed consumer. Our Legal Dept. says the same thing in Legalese at the bottom of this page. Enjoy.

      References: 

      Valdes AM, Walter J, Segal E, Spector TD. Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. BMJ. 2018; 361:k2179.

      Lozupone CA, Stombaugh JI, Gordon JI, et al. Diversity, stability and resilience of the human gut microbiota. Nature. 2012; 489(7415):220-30.

      Hill C, Guarner F, Reid G, et al. Expert consensus document. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014; 11(8):506-14. 

      Gibson GR, Hutkins R, Sanders ME, et al. Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017; 14(8):491-502.

      Bourassa MW, Alim I, Bultman SJ, et al. Butyrate, neuroepigenetics and the gut microbiome: Can a high fiber diet improve brain health? Neurosci Lett. 2016; 625:56-63.

      Chassaing B, Van de Wiele T, De Bodt J, et al. Dietary emulsifiers directly alter human microbiota composition and gene expression ex vivo potentiating intestinal inflammation. Gut. 2017; 66(8):1414-27.

      Suez J, Korem T, Zeevi D, et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature. 2014; 514(7521):181-6.

      Mutlu EA, Gillevet PM, Rangwala H, et al. Colonic microbiome is altered in alcoholism. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2012; 302(9):G966-78.

      Codella R, Luzi L, Terruzi I. Exercise has the guts: How physical activity may positively modulate gut microbiota in chronic and immune-based diseases. Dig Liver Dis. 2018; 50(4):331-41.

       

      These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

      DISCLAIMER
      This website is for educational and informational purposes only. The ideas, opinions and suggestions contained on this website are not to be construed as medical advice. If you have, or suspect you may have, a medical condition you should seek advice from a licensed health care practitioner. Readers of this website should not rely on the information provided or contained herein as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from your doctor for any health condition or problem. Users of this website should not rely on information provided on this website for their own health problems. Any questions or concerns regarding your own health should be addressed to your own physician. You should not start or stop any medications, diet or exercise plan without first consulting with your doctor. We neither encourage you to do so, nor are we liable for the failure to seek medical advice from the appropriate licensed medical health practitioner.

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