The health of your gut can determine if your days are marked by exhaustion and sickness or vibrancy and wellness. Seventy percent of your immune system, with its beneficial bacteria, is produced and housed in your gut. Unfortunately, the fragile balance of this important environment becomes hindered by the unhealthy diets and chronic stress, which are characteristic of the busy lifestyles experienced by most women.
The chief culprit for creating havoc in the environment of your gut is sugar. Regardless of whether it is in its natural state or refined, all forms of sugar work against the beneficial bacteria in your gut by feeding the dangerous, compromising bacteria. These bacteria overwhelm your system, crowd out the beneficial bacteria and compromise your immunity. Maintaining a low-sugar diet is very important for optimal functioning of your gut and immune system.
While reducing sugars may starve the dangerous bacteria, increasing dietary fiber will feed and multiply your beneficial bacteria. As the good bacteria ferment dietary fibers, healthy by-products work to feed the intestinal cells, rebuild immunity and supply you with nutrients such as vitamin B-12. Foods such as rolled oats and whole grains, beans and legumes and fruits and vegetables are high in dietary fibers that keep your gut healthy and your immune system strong.
A high-fat diet seems to affect beneficial bacteria by slowing its activity while increasing the growth rate of dangerous gut bacteria, according to a study published in the journal “Gastroenterology.” During this same study, the bacteria that flourished under a high-fat diet further promoted inflammation and changes in intestinal cells, leading to an unhealthy gut. Limiting foods high in saturated fats and consuming more low-fat, plant-based foods will help to ensure a healthy gut environment.
A lifestyle of stress and unhealthy eating habits often leads to poor concentrations of beneficial bacteria; therefore, it is often necessary to replenish them while improving your diet. More commonly known as probiotics, beneficial bacteria are found in some fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kumbucha tea -- a fermented drink. If these foods do not fit your lifestyle or taste, a supplement may be more appropriate. According to Harvard Medical School, probiotics are especially beneficial after finishing a course of antibiotics, which disrupts your beneficial bacteria and can lead to an unhealthy gut.
- Clinical and Experimental Immunology: Allergy and the Gastrointestinal System
- Nutrients: Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease
- Surgical Clinics of North America: Contributions of Intestinal Bacteria to Nutrition and Metabolism in the Critically Ill
- Harvard Health Publications: Probiotics May Help Prevent Diarrhea Due to Antibiotic Use
- Gastroenterology: High Fat Diet Determines the Composition of the Murine Gut Microbiome Independently of Obesity
Kendra Wright has been actively engaged in studying and living a healthy, nutrient-rich lifestyle for more than 14 years. Wright earned her bachelor's degrees from Indiana University in biology and chemistry, later graduating summa cum laude from the University of Bridgeport with a master's degree in nutrition. Wright continues researching and pursuing education in the areas of functional medicine, evidence based nutrition and general health.