How to increase the good bacteria in your gut and how to get rid of the bad ones

Clostridium butyricum, Rectal eubacteria And Roseburie are other bugs that make butyrate. Studies have shown that following a Mediterranean diet can increase the amount present in the intestine, while Roseburie responds particularly well to walnuts and almonds.

In addition, Clostridium butyricum It has been shown to reduce colitis (inflammation of the gut) and has been linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer, according to Dr Bunmi Omorotionmwan, a lecturer in microbiology at Nottingham Trent University who conducted extensive research on gut bacteria. “It’s found naturally in foods like vegetables and sour milk,” she says.

Y-shaped bacteria called Bifidobacteria can also be spotted throughout our digestive system. These insects digest fiber, help fight infections, and produce healthy B vitamins and fatty acids. “There is a lot of credible research showing that the Mediterranean diet, including plant foods, nuts and healthy oils, increases these beneficial bacteria,” says Dr Jens Walter, professor of ecology, food and microbiome at the University College Cork in Ireland.

All of these bugs promote a healthy microbiome, and eating plenty of fiber is key to having an abundant supply, because bacteria consume it to produce other compounds that benefit gut health, Dr. Duncan says. Fiber also bulks up the stool, which reduces constipation and helps flush toxins from the gut, she notes.

“The type of bacteria we have in our gut is strongly determined by what we eat, so a balanced diet including fiber-rich foods and vegetables will contribute to a healthy gut,” agrees Dr Omorotionmwan. “Eating a wide variety of foods is always a good idea to achieve a diversity of microbes in the gut.”

However, Dr Ho emphasizes that it’s not just what we eat that matters. “Data shows that lifestyle factors like avoiding stress, sleeping well, taking time to eat, holistic wellness measures like ensuring a social environment during meals, eating regularly and exercising will all contribute to good intestinal health,” he adds.

What are bad bacteria and how can I get rid of them?

Although the vast majority of microbes in our gut are beneficial to our health, some can make us seriously ill.

Clostridium difficile is an example. This microbe can live in our intestines without causing harm because our good bacteria suppress it. However, taking antibiotics disrupts this delicate balance and stimulates its growth. This may result in a Clostridium difficile infection, which causes diarrhea, fever and nausea. Older people are particularly at risk, as the microbiome becomes less diverse with age, says Dr. Ho.

Increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut can prevent these bad bacteria from establishing colonies in us and causing disease, says Dr. Omorotionmwan.

Bilophile Wadsworthia, which looks like a microscopic grain of rice, can also cause problems. Around six in ten people have it in their gut and it’s part of the healthy microbiome when levels are low. However, eating lots of foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty cuts of meat, cheese and chocolate, can increase levels, triggering inflammation, says Dr. Walter.

But it is easy to counteract this phenomenon by reducing the consumption of these foods. “If you eat a healthy diet, your microbiome produces metabolites that are beneficial to health, and if you eat a less healthy diet – particularly Western diets which tend to be high in fat and sugar – your gut microbiome produces metabolites that are really beneficial for health. detrimental,” he said.

For example, a highly refined, low-fiber diet causes the microbiome to turn against the mucous layer of the gut, reducing the body’s defenses against harmful bacteria, he explains.

Ultimately, a healthy diet is essential. “Eat plenty of plant-based foods, dietary fiber, and healthy fats and avoid saturated fats and processed foods, especially processed meat,” adds Dr. Walter.

What are the signs of good and poor gut health?

Having a diverse range of good bacteria in the microbiome is necessary for good gut health, notes Professor Spector. But how do you know what shape your microbes are in? There are easy ways to check.

“A sign of good gut health is the ability to eat normal amounts of food without experiencing distressing symptoms,” he notes. Having good energy levels and good sleep quality are also markers of a strong microbiome, adds Dr Ho.

“Digestive discomfort or irregular bowel movements may indicate that your gut is not functioning optimally, but gut health influences overall health in many ways, so the signs of poor gut health can vary,” says Professor Spector.

Some less obvious signs of poor gut health include unintentional weight loss and dizziness, which signal a lack of absorbed nutrients; regular infections, because much of the immune system is rooted in the gut; and anxiety or depression, because there are links between the gut and mental health, he adds.

Is it worth taking a test or taking probiotics?

Dozens of companies now offer gut microbiome tests. This usually involves collecting a stool sample in a container, sending it to a laboratory, and waiting for scientists to report back on the bacteria they found.

Zoe is one of the most popular options. Professor Spector says customers receive a breakdown of how many 50 ‘good’ bacteria and 50 ‘bad’ bacteria are in their sample, as well as a microbiome ‘score’.

“A person who has a greater proportion of ‘good’ species than ‘bad’ species is likely to have better markers of metabolic health (such as blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol) than someone whose proportions go in the opposite direction,” he says. . “Understanding the state of your gut microbiome can be a great way to motivate yourself to eat a healthy, diverse diet. »

However, the charity Guts UK notes that while microbiome tests can be interesting, these tests do not provide a complete picture of gut health, they do not detect all the bacteria in a person’s microbiome and that individual results will not be detected. vary from one sample to another.

“I would say you don’t really need advice from these companies,” says Dr. Walter. “If you eat healthily, you will most likely benefit from it, regardless of what your microbiome looks like. So I’m probably more of a believer in just recommending that people eat healthy.

Other options touted for better gut health include probiotics – live bacteria and yeast taken as supplements or added to yogurt that aim to restore a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. However, because they are technically classified as foods, they are not regulated.

“I don’t think there’s strong evidence that taking probiotics generally keeps you healthier or helps prevent disease,” says Dr. Walter. “I think there is good evidence for targeted use of probiotics for irritable bowel syndrome or certain infections.

“Selecting the right probiotics is extremely difficult, even for us experts, because we are in the Wild West and it is very difficult to obtain reliable scientific information on which probiotic to use.”

Dr. Ho adds that probiotics are “not a panacea” and that it is difficult to change gut bacterial populations with long-term use.

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Gn Health

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