Many people associate bacteria with bad side effects—germs that might make you sick or something that might cause a stomach bug. What people don’t talk about is that there is an abundance of bacteria in your stomach that is crucial to your health. There is an estimated 100 trillion bacteria in your gut, called gut flora, that serve an important role in protecting the body against infection and building the immune system.
What Purpose Do These Bacteria Serve?
There are a number of health functions that the gut flora is responsible for maintaining. Your weight is one of those important things. Obese people have less diversity of gut bacteria than those who are at a healthy body weight. In addition to affecting weight, they also affect metabolism. Researchers have found that people who eat diets high in fat and cholesterol, which are prone to boost the risk of heart disease, have high levels of a compound in their stomach that cause them to be more likely to have a stroke or heart attack.
Although people do often associate bacteria with getting sick, a variety of gut bacteria actually boosts your immune system and helps you stay healthy. In addition to physical health, some studies have shown that there could even be a link between the proper balance of gut bacteria and good mental health as well.
How Can I Improve My Gut Bacteria?
Now that you know how important gut bacteria can be in your day to day life, you might be wondering if there is any way you can increase it or change the basic makeup of the bacteria within your digestive tract. One way is through a diverse diet, especially one rich in whole foods, fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, and beans, while limiting meat intake. It’s also important to watch your sugar intake, but make sure not to jump to artificial sweeteners as a replacement. In addition, fermented foods like plain yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, or tempeh have been shown to improve your system. If you want to start kids off on the right foot, breastfeeding for at least six months has shown to have a positive correlation to healthy gut bacteria. Lastly, you can supplement your diet with a probiotic pill or powder, which may assist in restoring microbiota to good health.
If you want to understand more about the importance of bacteria in your gut and how you can improve yours, make an appointment with Dr. Islam today.