When you hear the term “bacteria,” you may immediately think it is something to be avoided. Not so fast! Yes, bacteria on the outside of your body should often be avoided, as it can cause serious infections, those found inside the body can actually protect against it. Although bacteria still catches a bad rep, you may not be aware these tiny microbes found in your stomach and intestines can actually have a positive impact on your health. Everything from your waistline to your immune system can benefit from healthy gut bacteria.
Healthy gut bacteria can:
- Promote better digestion
- Curb harmful bacteria
- Stimulate the immune system
- Synthesize vitamins
- Help you absorb nutrients better
The “gut” isn’t just the intestines, as many think. The term generally signifies the entire passageway from the mouth to the anus. The bacteria living in this passageway is collectively known as gut microbiota, or gut flora, which also contains fungi and protozoa. You may be surprised to learn that there are around 40 to 100 trillion bacteria in your body already, and most people even have upwards of one pound of bacteria living in their gut at all time. Most are harmless and pose no threat.
What Gut Bacteria Does – Good and Bad
Many types of bacteria are extremely important for your health. Other types of bacteria, many found in the intestines, can contribute to the development of any number of diseases. Both the solutions and problems caused by healthy gut bacteria are being researched, but what we know is that healthy gut bacteria can improve your health in a multitude of ways. The health of your gut bacteria can impacts the immune system, your metabolism, mood, and more.
How Can I Increase My Healthy Gut Bacteria?
You can make lifestyle modifications to optimize your health and improve your gut bacteria. Research is still in its preliminary stages, and much about gut flora remains a mystery. However, these lifestyle modifications certainly are good for your health, regardless. Doctors recommend eating a diverse range of foods with lots of whole foods, especially those high in fiber. Although fiber cannot be digested by the body, it is digestible by certain gut bacteria, promoting their growth.
Gut bacteria are extremely important to your health, and healthy gut bacteria may keep chronic disease at bay. To maintain healthy microbiota, doctors recommend eating fresh, whole foods, particularly from plant sources such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains.