Every single day, the body is exposed to numerous viruses, bacteria, toxins, and pathogens that can compromise your health. Thankfully, the immune system has specific cells that work to neutralize these foreign invaders on contact. Well, this is true if your immune system functions optimally. If your immune system is impaired for whatever reason, your health could be at risk.
One of the easiest ways to keep your immune system in tip-top shape is by maintaining a healthy balance of gut flora. The 100 trillion bacteria that inhabit your gut have more influence on your overall health than you realize. Some of these bacteria are beneficial, while others are unfriendly and harmful to your health. When the scales tip in favor of unhealthy bacteria in the gut, things start to go south, also known as dysbiosis. This has been linked to insulin resistance, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, inflammation, and colorectal cancer.
Exposing the gut to certain foods or dietary toxins threatens your ability to metabolize and absorb nutrients. Failure to absorb essential nutrients can cause poor mental and physical health. Keeping your gastrointestinal system strong and the beneficial bacteria alive is the answer! You can’t do that if you continue to destroy your gut with the following things.
Taking Too Many Antibiotics:
Antibiotics can help treat numerous infections, or help prevent infections from occurring after a surgical procedure. They also destroy your gut health, killing both beneficial and unhealthy bacteria. Taking too many antibiotics affects the bacterial diversity and composition in your gut, leading to long-term health problems. After you complete a dose of antibiotics, most bacteria return within one to four weeks, but their levels are never the same. When some bacteria come back, they can even become antibiotic-resistant.
Stressing Too Much:
Stress leads to psychological, emotional, and physical complications. Studies found that stress can influence both the abundance and the types of bacteria in your gut. Since the gut communicates with the brain, it can affect your overall mood. Research suggests that Lactobacillus, beneficial bacterium, actually decreases when exposed to stress. The gut-brain axis is a powerful highway of communication, so keep your stress in check if you want to maintain healthy microbiome.
Not Sleeping Enough:
Sleep is the answer, people! Well, maybe not to the secrets of the universe, but sleep helps the body recover and keeps you balanced. The body has a circadian rhythm, which is the clock that tells you when to go to bed and when to wake up. This internal clock affects your hormones, and it can keep you alert or make you tired. The gut has a similar circadian-like rhythm and disrupting it can negatively affect gut bacteria. One study found that two days of sleep deprivation caused changes to gut flora, increasing the presence of bad bacteria that leads to weight gain and diabetes.
The Western Diet:
The Western diet is something that the Western world is accustomed to. It also happens to be one of the primary reasons that a high percentage of the adult population experiences poor gut health. All of the meat, refined sugars, unhealthy fats, processed ingredients, dairy products, hormones, and antibiotics wreak havoc on gut microbes. Additionally, the lack of fiber impairs the body’s ability to efficiently move food through the digestive tract. There’s an abundance of research documenting the fact that the Western diet alters gut microbiota. This alteration leads to obesity and other metabolic diseases, and it increases the risk of gut inflammation.
The Sedentary Lifestyle:
The amount of time people spend in a seated position increases yearly. People all over the world continue to develop pathogenic gut bacteria, which lowers the diversity of beneficial bacteria. This can contribute to a higher risk of chronic diseases and conditions. Couple this sedentary nature with lack of exercise and gut health goes way down hill. Physical activity can improve gut health! Several studies found that higher levels of exercise lead to diverse gut flora and better metabolic health. Failure to exercise increases the production of harmful bacteria in the gut.