A healthy gut is the cornerstone of a healthy body, when the ecosystem of bacteria that lives in your gastrointestinal tract (gut microbiome) is balanced and diverse, almost every other system in your body benefits, including the skin. Similarly, an unbalanced gut can wreak havoc on everything from your metabolism to your mood. What you eat plays a huge role in the health of your gut.
One of the best ways to support your gut health is to eat well and support with probiotics. Here are foods with the highest potential to damage or disrupt your gut microbiome.
We know that the idea that sugar isn’t the best for our body. This includes sugar and sweeteners in all of forms: white sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, etc. But why is it so bad for your gut bacteria? It’s all about balance.
Most of the bacteria in your gut help support your body, but about 15% of the bacteria in there can have some negative impacts on your overall health. Most of the time this isn’t a problem, because as long as the good bacteria outweigh the bad by about six times, things tend to work well. But if the balance of bacteria shifts, then that undesirable bacteria can start to have more of an effect, leaving you feeling less than your best.
What does this have to do with sugar? Well, just like you, your bacteria has to eat. And they get their food from the food that you consume. While some foods are prebiotic - meaning that they break down into substances that feed the good bacteria in your body, others, including sugar, feed the bad bacteria. The more sugar or sweeteners you eat, the more they can grow, and eventually start crowding out the good bacteria, which has all kinds of effects on your body, including lowering immunity. Remember bacteria and viruses thrive on sugar, it's their only source of energy and consuming sweet snacks when you're sick can often make you feel worse.
Participants in a study of sugar's effects on digestion reported increased constipation and poorer overall gut function while on a high-sugar diet.
The study is in the link below.
Try this instead: There are natural sweeteners that you can use to replace sugar; natural organic pure honey is one of the easiest to find and use and it's a potent prebiotic.
Many people trying to lose weight turn to artificial sweeteners, after all, what could be bad about these zero-calorie treats? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Research increasingly points to a host of negative gut effects caused by artificial sweeteners, including changes to gut microbial composition, increased glucose intolerance and higher rates of metabolic disease.
When you drink, alcohol literally acts like the grim reaper killing all the good bacteria in your gut (which shouldn't come as a surprise; you can fuel your car with it).. It's been found that as you become more intoxicated, more endotoxins “leak” from your gut into the blood stream
Gluten - is a type of protein that’s found in many grains, including wheat, rye, and barley and It gives foods a good texture. However Gluten has received bad press in recent years, and it turns out this reputation is unfortunately well-earned.
While those with Celiac disease are particularly susceptible to its effects. Research has shown that even if you’re not gluten-sensitive, eating gluten can have significant, long-term effects on your gut bacteria, Studies have found that gluten can lead to stomach pain, bloating and fatigue even in those without the disease.
Please note: All rice (in its natural form) is gluten-free. This includes brown rice, white rice and wild rice. In this case, the “glutinous” term refers to the sticky nature of the rice and not the gluten protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Rice is one of the most popular gluten-free grains.
The research study link is below:
Try this instead: There are many grain-free alternatives. Experiment, and you might be surprised at what you can find.
FRIED & JUNK FOOD
You may be aware that fried and processed foods is not the healthiest for you. But did you know why? The same reason as sugar. They break down into components that feed the bad bacteria in your gut while devastating your good bacterial populations.
An experiment conducted by Tim Spector a professor of Genetic Epidemiology found that when his adult son ate strictly fried foods and junk foods for 1 week, he lost about a third of the species of bacteria in his gut microbiome, Among the species that stayed and flourished was the bad bacteria linked to problems with weight gain and poor metabolism. Similar results have been found in other studies conducted.
Fried foods not only feeds bad bacteria, but causes the reduction in the healthy species of bacteria in the gut. Gut diversity is important. The more diverse your gut microbiome is, the better your health is likely to be.
Try this instead: if craving junk food, try opting for healthier versions. For instance, French fries can be substituted for oven-roasted potatoes or even prebiotic-rich jicama fries instead. Alternatively, you can also make fried foods somewhat healthier by changing the oil that you cook them in, so try using coconut oil or avocado oil instead of canola or vegetable oil. Unlike many other oils, they don’t break down into harmful components when heated, and so are a better choice for anything you’re light frying at home.
Most of us know that processed foods aren't healthy, but the effects that they can have on your digestive system balance might surprise you. A recent study conducted on mice revealed that the emulsifiers used in heavily-processed foods disturbed their gut microbiota so much that many developed colitis and metabolic diseases.
Some people are going to be more sensitive to dairy products than others. But research has shown that a diet rich in dairy products has significant effects on your gut microbiome, and it only takes a few days of increased dairy for those changes to take place, allowing bad bacterial strains linked to intestinal disease and inflammation to flourish.
Another issue with dairy?
The possibility of consuming antibiotics in it. Overuse of antibiotics is a recipe for disaster. These substances have a “scorched earth” effect on the gut, getting rid of beneficial and non-beneficial bacteria alike, which really throws your microbiome out of balance.
The issue is, many of us are exposed to more antibiotics than we realize, since they sometimes show up in our food. While FDA regulations in the U.S. state that lactating cows can’t be given antibiotics, since they leach into the milk, a small percentage of farmers have been found to violate those regulations, meaning that your dairy products might not be as antibiotic-free as you’d like.
Try this instead: nut milk, coconut milk, rice milk
Below is a link to the study:
Like dairy, eating red meat can encourage the growth of certain bacterial strains that can negatively impact your health, from your weight to your immunity to your emotional state. The same study that found dairy to be problematic showed that red meat had the same ill effects on study participants’ gut microbiomes.
While having the occasional organic, grass-fed, responsibly farmed steak isn’t likely to throw your whole system off, eating a diet that’s overly meat-heavy can be tough on your body, especially if it includes a lot of red meat.
While research is ongoing, it’s been shown that eating a lot of red meat affects your gut bacteria rapidly, increasing undesirable bacteria and decreasing the good bacteria. Another problem is that unless you’re getting really high quality, responsibly produced meat or chicken, chances are that it’s got some antibiotics in it. The fact is 80% of antibiotics used are given to livestock!
Try this instead: Eat less meat and look for organic grass-fed meat.
Staying hydrated by drinking enough water is fundamental to good health- our bodies are made up on average of 60% water. But we should be careful about the sources of the water we drink. The water that comes from your tap is treated with a host of chemicals including chlorine, and research has found that chlorinated water can have significant negative effects on gut bacteria and can alter the ecosystem of the gut microbiome.
Also be aware of the presence of antibiotics and other chemicals... When we consume antibiotics either as medicine or through our food supply, they get processed by our body and released into our wastewater, which is then sometimes recycled for drinking water. While it is of course processed before it makes its way back to your tap, the water can still have the residue of antibiotics in it, which in turn affects your gut microbiome.
Try this instead: get a filter pitcher, a water distiller or opt for spring water instead of tap.
Eggs in moderation is ok, but how they’re produced really matters. While eggs that come from happy chickens who are fed a healthy diet, allowed to roam, and not injected with antibiotics are generally fine to consume, your standard farm raised eggs are not so great for you. Again, it comes down to the possibility of getting residual antibiotics through your food.
Cleveland Clinic researchers found that a certain protein in eggs encourages the growth of gut bacteria that produce a chemical compound that causes clotting and thus raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Try this instead: opt for organic drug free eggs
Soy is often thought of as nutritious and beneficial and many of the foods we consider to be healthy are made from it, and it has become a common substitute for meat.
Most of the soy we consume today is genetically modified and the high levels of processing that it goes through makes it less-than-ideal for our bodies.
Studies have shown that a diet high in soy products can have rapid, large-scale negative effects on gut bacteria, the ingredient has been shown to reduce key Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus populations, two strains that are crucial for a balanced gut and microbial health.
Try this instead: Organic soy can be healthy, especially when it’s fermented (as in the case of natto, tempeh, or miso). Read the label carefully, and avoid GMO soy.
The reason that corn can be so detrimental to your gut health is simple: almost 90% of all corn grown in the United States and western countries is genetically modified. The prevalence of corn in the American diet -and the general fuzziness surrounding what is and isn't genetically modified--suggests that avoiding corn altogether might be the best choice for your gut health.
How can fish be bad for your gut? the use of antibiotics in aquaculture. Huge amounts of antibiotics are included in the food that farmed fish are fed, and evidence suggests that these antibiotics can be passed along when these fish are eaten. Of course, any antibiotic kills the bacteria in your gut indiscriminately, leading to an unhealthy balance of key strains. Farmed fish are often fed growth hormones and genetically modified corn that can also deplete your beneficial bacteria.
Another potential issue? Some types of fish have high levels of mercury in their flesh, which isn’t good for your health overall, and is also associated with lowered levels of good gut bacteria. Fish are fine as long as you consume them in moderation and get them from a reputable source.
Try this instead: try to consume only wild-caught fish.
GENETICALLY -MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMOs)
In an effort to cultivate crops that are naturally resistant to pests and disease, scientists have created what are known as genetically-modified organisms (or GMOs); wheat, soybeans and corn are the three most common GMOs. Unfortunately, the traits that help GMOs resist disease can have terrible effects on gut health: studies have found that consumption of GMO foods can reduce the beneficial bacteria populations in the gut.
GMO foods research is still ongoing, but there are a number of potential issues with these types of foods. One of the main areas of focus is the negative effects that glyphosate (an herbicide used in growing some GMO foods) has on the gut microbiome. Other research points to changes in the genes of the microbiome: one study has shown that when humans digest genetically-modified foods, the artificially-created genes transfer into the bacteria of the gut and alter their function. Ultimately, the potential negative effects on your gut and overall health are reason enough for to avoid GMOs whenever possible.
Try this instead: Look for natural organic foods or foods that are grown using traditional methods with non-GMO ingredients. Depending on where you live, the government might require companies to label GMO foods; otherwise, you may have to do your own research.
In our modern Western culture avoiding all of these ingredients all the time may be impossible. chances are you’re going to eat some processed food, drink alcohol, or have a glass of tap water every now and then. Don’t worry if you do. However, taking steps to reduce your intake of these foods and adding in a daily probiotic supplement to help preserve your beneficial gut bacteria can go a long way towards a healthier gut.