Last post we discussed all the different drugs that can affect our gut health. Avoiding them will give you a huge leg up in your efforts to nourish and protect your gut flora. However, that’s not the whole picture, and today we’ll discuss other lifestyle factors to consider.
It always seems to come back to diet, doesn’t it? Maintaining a healthy population of beneficial bacteria is no exception. If you don’t remember anything else from this series, remember this: bad bugs love sugar! Whether its your favorite soda, candy, or starchy foods like white bread and pasta, the bugs don’t care. Diets high in processed carbohydrates and sugars lead to increased levels of pathogenic bacteria, yeasts, parasites and even fungi. So the next time you get a craving for some high sugar, processed substance, picture these nasty creatures swimming around in your gut. That’ll probably help decrease your craving!
Another dietary factor is the lack of fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables. Insoluble plant fibers like cellulose can’t be digested and absorbed by our bodies, but they do feed beneficial bacteria. You get the vitamins and phytonutrients, the bugs get the fiber. So eat your fruits and veggies and keep everybody happy.
Overeating also contributes to the problem. Your gut is only so big, and it can only handle so much food at one time. When you eat beyond satiety, you are overwhelming the system. Your body can’t produce enough digestive enzymes to break down all the food, and it actually begins to ferment in your stomach and intestines. You get bloating, gas, cramping, and the opportunistic bacteria get a feast. Don’t feed the bad bugs, and spare yourself the embarassment of having to unbutton your pants after dinner. Eat till you’re full, and then stop.
Yet another factor that seems to pop up in just about every health discussion these days. Are you sick of hearing about it yet? Unfortunately, until we cut down on the stress of our modern lifestyles, our health will continue to suffer in a myriad of ways. Long term, chronic stress has been shown to alter your gut flora. Not only that, but it also lowers your immune system. Combine the two, and you’re asking for a breakdown. Find ways to lower your stress, and your body (and mind) will thank you.
Alright, we’ve covered the basics of what gut flora is, what drugs damage it, and what lifestyle factors contribute. Next post we’ll move into some more optimistic information, and give you practical tips on how to protect and restore your gut flora.