Your body is the home to millions and millions of bacteria that are known as the gut flora. While a certain set among these are good for your health, there are certain villainous ones also. Right from enabling the proper extraction of food to maintaining your immunity and shielding you from repeated infections, these bacteria are essential for your overall well-being. However, the science has only a handful of evidences about actual impact of these bacteria on your health and happiness.
Read On To Know More About The Influence of Gut Flora On Your Overall Well-Being.
Gut Flora And Your Physical And Mental Well-Being
1. Influences Your Weight!
This is one of the areas which is now being studied in deep. According to a recent study, the higher the diversity of gut flora is, the more the risk of obesity is. Yet another study revealed the increased presence of Firmicutes and decreased presence of Bacteroidetes, two different types of bacteria that lives in your gut, could put you at a higher risk of being obese.
While the research is still in its in vitro stages, it does offer a ray of hope for those who are trying to lose weight, but are not able to achieve their goals.
2. Your Immune System Is Affected!
According to a study, healthy gut flora is essential for the synthesis of the white blood corpuscles, which in turn are important for a strong and well-developed immune system. The study suggested that these bacteria essential for immune response are found in the highest concentration in the colon and gastrointestinal tract. The study also suggested that maintaining a healthy gut bacteria could help in lowering the risk of auto-immune disorders like multiple sclerosis and autism.
3. Determines The Risk of Heart Diseases
According to a study, the gut bacteria in people who consume more eggs and beef and similar foods stimulate the synthesis of a particular compound, which, in turn could up the risk of developing heart conditions. In the people, who were subjected to the study, the concentration of trimethylamine-N-oxide was so high that they had 2.5 times higher risk of being susceptible to heart attack than those with normal levels. Thus, the study suggested that making dietary modifications like cutting down foods rich in cholesterol and unhealthy fats could help in maintaining the gut bacteria and shield your heart.
4. It Determines Your Happiness Levels!
Have you ever noticed that a person with irritable bowel syndrome or any tummy upset for that matter is prone to stress and depression? Well, if you ever thought the person was acting weird, then let me tell you that it is the gut bacteria that was doing all drama.
According to a study that was conducted in 2011 on mice, it was noticed that those mice who were given antibiotics showed high levels of anxiety. This happens because antibiotic drugs upset the normal health of the gut flora, triggering this response. The restoration of the natural state eased the anxiety also.
In another research, it was found that any upset to the natural rhythm of the bacteria present in your tummy, could also up the risk of depression. If the impact of gut flora is so evident on human behavior, inclusion of probiotics could help in significantly improving mood-related conditions that arise due to gastrointestinal upsets.
5. Could Affect Infants
According to a recent research, the disruption of gut bacteria could be one of the prime causes of an infant developing colic or indulging in non-stop crying. The study suggested that colicky babies, who cried for three or more hours a day without any underlying causes, had higher concentration of Proteobacteria, as against the other babies who did not have colic.
How To Maintain Your Gut Flora For Your Health And Happiness
1. Indulge In Fiber
Include fiber rich foods like whole grains such as barley, brown rice, and oatmeal as well a good dose of veggies and fruits in your diet. Strive for including about 25 grams of fiber a day to ensure that your gut is healthy. Bonus: you will be able to shed excess weight and your bowels will be clean. Fibers are essential for the actual functioning of the next item, probiotics.
[ Read: How Fiber Is Important In Your Diet ]
2. Load Up On Probiotics
You do have natural probiotics in your intestine. However, given the nature of the foods we eat, it is quintessential to give your gut an extra dose of probiotic foods. Choose to include natural probiotic sources like yogurt in your diet. Some of the other sources of probiotics are miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi that are fermented and are rich sources of active, live cultures.
[ Read: How Probiotic Foods Healthy For You ]
3. Avoid Foods That Do Not Contain Fiber!
I would like to call them the enemies of your foods. They can be counted as the zero value foods that does nothing, but harm to your body. Some of the good groups that you ought to avoid include refined flour, white bread, white rice, sugar, biscuits, pastries, noodles, pasta, and pizza. The list is vast, but in simple words, avoid any such food that does not have any kind of nutritional value in it.
4. Choose To Avoid Antibiotics!
Whenever and wherever possible, try to avoid using antibiotics. These drugs do not have the potential to differentiate between the good and the bad bacteria. And, hence, along with clearing the bacteria that caused your infection, your antibiotic will wipe away the healthy gut flora also. But, if it is essential and unavoidable, ensure that you are making use of probiotics generously to ensure that you are replenishing the good ones in your gut.
5. Avoid Unnecessary Medications!
As with antibiotics, try to avoid the use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen and laxatives whenever possible. These also fail to recognize the good bacteria and thus, end up killing them too. If you are on such a medical prescription, include probiotics for twice the duration you were on the drugs.
6. Wipe Out Alcohol From Your Life!
According to a research conducted by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, one drink per day is sufficient to put the gut health under scanner. Along with clearing the space for the growth of bad flora, it also triggers a massive distress in the gastrointestinal tract, slowly stimulating the elimination of healthy bacteria.
7. Keep Your Stress Under Control!
Stress and gut flora share a direct ratio. The higher the levels of your stress are, the more the chances of your gut health being at risk. It is the same other way round also. So ensure that you are working out 30 minutes a day. Plus, try to include some breathing or mediation techniques for 15 to 20 minutes a day to keep you relaxed.
[ Read: How Music Reduces Stress ]
Remember, according to Ayurveda, your gut health determines your overall health. Hence, it is very important to ensure that you are taking care of the good bacteria that live in your gut!