Top tips on maintaining healthy gut flora

Top tips on maintaining healthy gut flora

29 Dec 2021

What is gut flora?

Millions of bacteria and other microorganisms such as fungi, parasites, and viruses can be found in our intestines (1, 2). Collectively, we call these coexisting microorganisms as gut flora.

When we think of fungi, parasites, or bacteria, we tend to see these things as unhealthy. However, these organisms are actually important elements that allow our bodies to function optimally.

In a healthy person, these organisms coexist in balance with each other. When these organisms are imbalanced, it can lead to illnesses and complications from within.

There are two kinds of microorganisms in our gut - good and bad bacteria (7). While good bacteria promote healthy functions, such as anti-inflammatory effects, bad bacteria have negative bodily effects. A healthy gut microbiome has a healthy balance of both good and bad bacteria. Health problems occur when good bacteria are unable to keep the bad bacteria in check.

What does the gut flora do?

The gut flora provides multiple benefits to our bodies that include the following (1, 2):

  • Helps with food digestion
  • Produces vitamins such as biotin and vitamin K
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Breaks down potentially toxic food compounds
  • Synthesizes certain vitamins and amino acids
  • Offers protection from pathogenic organisms entering the body
  • Involved in the production of SCFA (short-chain fatty acids) that the body uses for nutrition, muscle function, and the prevention of certain illnesses
  • Prevents the growth and expansion of harmful bacteria in the body

Tips on maintaining gut flora balance

Considering that gut flora plays a crucial role in several bodily processes, it is important to keep it healthy and thriving. Here are some tips to help balance your gut flora.

Eat a wide range of healthy foods

Gut Flora

Generally, the more diverse your gut flora is, the healthier it will be (3). This is because each microorganism found in your gut benefits the body differently. The more diverse your gut becomes, the more benefits you can get from it. In order to achieve greater diversity in your gut, it helps to eat a variety of healthy foods to ensure you are exposed to a diverse range of bacteria.  

Consider trying beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, fermented foods, and whole grains when making meals.

Vegetables and fruits are great sources for fibre. Organisms in your gut will thank you for it. Fibre stimulates these organisms and helps them grow. Eating beans and legumes also helps your gut as they contain high amounts of fibre. Consider adding raspberries, green peas, broccoli, bananas, apples, beans, and lentils to your diet.

Fermented foods are also something worth considering for a healthy gut. Some of these options include yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha, all of which are rich in good bacteria that can support gut health.

Lastly, whole grains contain a lot of fibre and nutrients that our body cannot digest on its own. These nutrients find their way to our large intestine where bacteria can then further break them down. This promotes and stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in our bodies (3).

Don’t skimp on sleep

Getting enough sleep is important for your overall health. In your gut specifically, lack of sleep can lead to other more harmful gut-related complications. These complications can then lead to more issues with sleep, which can form a vicious cycle of more severe complications (3).

Gut Flora

Don’t forget to hydrate

Proper hydration helps in boosting the mucosal linings in your intestines. It also provides multiple benefits to the good bacteria in your gut (3). Make sure you’re able to drink the recommended amount of water daily.

Check if you have any food intolerances

A person’s internal make-up is unique, meaning what promotes healthy gut bacteria for you could be detrimental to someone else. This also means that we may find certain foods more difficult to digest than others. When we eat these trigger foods, it might cause some trouble to our gut and digestive system. Consult your doctor to find out if you have any trigger foods so that you can minimise their effect on your diet and gut health.

Consume more probiotics

Probiotics are basically the good bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your gut (4). Probiotics are beneficial because they support proper digestion and the overall health of our gut and digestive system. They also help in keeping harmful bacteria away from the gut, contributing to a healthy and well-balanced gut flora (3). You can get your fix of probiotics from foods such as yogurt, sourdough, buttermilk, cheese, or any fermented food. If you’re on a restrictive diet, you can also consider taking supplements to boost your probiotic intake. Just make sure to consult your doctor or healthcare provider beforehand.

Consume more curcumin

Cucumin is a compound nutrient found in turmeric and other herbs and spices. While it’s known for anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative prowess, cucumin is also great at promoting gut health (5) and contributes to the overall digestive function of the body.

Add zinc to your diet

Studies have found that zinc may help the body against disorders of the gastrointestinal tract (6). On the other hand, zinc deficiency is related to the development of certain gastrointestinal disorders (6).

Consider taking supplements

We might find ourselves on very restrictive diets or might not be able to live a food lifestyle that can support a healthy and diverse gut flora. In these situations, we can consider taking supplements as it is a great way to bolster any deficiency we might have with our diets, particularly when it comes to gut health. Some of the supplements that you can consider for gut health include probiotics, prebiotics, and curcumin. You just need to make sure that you consult your doctor first before taking any supplement.

A healthy, diverse, and well-balanced gut flora is essential to living a healthy life. It is important to take the proper steps and precautions to maintain your gut flora’s health for healthier days ahead.

Vitable’s vitamin subscription lets you pick and choose which vitamins are right for you for gut health and beyond. Subscribe now for custom vitamin packs in Australia delivered right at your doorstep via our vitamin delivery services.

Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:

Zinc | Probiotic SB | Daily probiotics | Curcumin

*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.

References:

  1. Gut Flora (n.d.), Accessed November 9, 2021 from https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/gut-flora
  2. The Microbiome (n.d.), Accessed November 9, 2021 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/
  3. Dietary Effects on Human Gut Microbiome Diversity (2015), Accessed November 9. 2021 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25498959/
  4. Probiotics (n.d.), Accessed November 9, 2021 from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14598-probiotics
  5. Cucumin (n.d.), Accessed November 9, 2021 from https://research.vitable.com.au/curcumin
  6. Skrovanek, S., DiGuilio K., et. al., Zinc and gastrointestinal disease. World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology. (November 15, 2014). Accessed November 17 from. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4231515/
  7. The Gut Microbiome. (January 6 2020). Accessed November 17 2021 from https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/podcast/my-amazing-body-the-gut-microbiome