Gut health: Avoid these foods as they kill off gut microbes, says Michael Mosley
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A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents like bacteria, viruses and fungi. A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain general health and well-being. Dr Michael Mosley discussed the importance of good bacteria and gut health and how certain foods can have an effect on this with Dr Kirsten Berding Harold from the University Hospital in Cork.
Dr Mosley asked: “Are there foods to avoid that have an effect on the good bacteria?”
Dr Berding Harold answered: “It’s a lot of the unhealthy foods that we know so a lot of the processed foods, the high-fat foods, the fried foods, and high-sugar foods.
“So actually, all the foods that taste good to a lot of people are actually bad for gut microbes.”
Experts advise reducing the amount of processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods that you eat which will contribute to better gut health.
Additionally, eating plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein can positively impact your gut.
Other foods to avoid include:
Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners like saccharin and sucralose, which are used in some diet sodas, can change people’s gut microbiota population.
The carbonation in soda also can cause bloating and belching.
A diet high in saturated fats (those found in fatty meat, butter, and cheese) can affect both the diversity and abundance of your good gut bacteria.
Studies have found that when carnitine, a compound in red meat, mixes with gut bacteria, it causes trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) to form.
At higher levels, TMAO is linked to a greater risk for cardiovascular disease and earlier death.
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Signs you may have an unhealthy gut include:
- Upset stomach
- Having a diet with too much sugar in it
- Unintentional weight changes
- Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue
- Skin irritation
- Autoimmune conditions
- Food intolerances
How long to repair my gut health?
Microbes in the gut can begin to change within days of changes to your diet, but the long-term benefits can take several years to show, said the British Heart Foundation.
The health site added: “Remember that if you go back to your old ways, you aren’t going to get much of a benefit – it’s about long-term changes.
“Make small switches, such as buying different colours of peppers instead of a single one, or a pack of mixed vegetables if trying to change your gut health.
“Try not to have the same meals every day. Even if you love routine, have different fruit on different days, or if you eat porridge every day, vary the toppings – banana one day, berries another, along with nuts and seeds.”
A damaged gut can lead to all sorts of digestive health issues including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), SIBO, Crohn’s Disease, irregularity, stomach pain, bloating, and more.
One of the best ways to support your gut health is to eat well.
By eating the right kinds of food with the risk and potential to damage or disrupt your gut microbiome is majorly reduced.
By following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and taking probiotic supplements, your gut health can significantly improve along all the other health benefits.
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