With the holidays upon us, you’ve probably seen a wish list or two. Maybe you’ve written one. But between this year’s trendiest gift and that top of your Santa list gadget, your body is quietly trying to get a word in, too. Maybe this year will be the year you gift yourself a little gut self-care. Without further ado, what your gut would most like to unwrap under the tree this year:
Your gut microbiome thrives with a healthy amount of diversity among the different bacteria living in it. Probiotics put good bacteria into your gut and help maintain balance among all the strains of bacteria living there. These bacteria are helping you digest your food and squeeze every last nutrient from it. While probiotics are available in tablets and capsules in the health food aisle of your local drug store, they can also be found naturally in foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
Prebiotics work in tandem with probiotics. In fact, they feed the probiotic bacteria to allow them to thrive in your gut. They may even help your gut bacteria become more resilient to changes in their environment, such as changes in the pH when you eat different types of food. Prebiotics can be found naturally in foods such as onions, garlic, whole grain breads, bananas, and asparagus.
Polyphenols are plant-based compounds packed full of antioxidants and, like prebiotics, act as tasty snacks for the gut microbiome. They can be found in nuts, berries, olive oil, coffee, and tea (especially in green tea). They’re even present in wine, though you should always drink alcohol in moderation.
Varied fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain various types of prebiotics and polyphenols naturally, along with fiber and plenty of vitamins. Fiber helps things move along at the right pace through your gut – just long enough for the bacteria to do their job for you. It’s important to vary your intake of fruits and vegetables to achieve the proper balance.
Time in the countryside, along with your dog
Studies have shown that rural dwellers have a more diverse gut microbiome than their city dwelling counterparts. People with dogs also have a more diverse gut microbiome. Sounds like a good excuse for a nice country hike and picnic with the pooch, doesn’t it?
No unnecessary antibiotics
Thinking of going to the doctor for a cold? Your gut is begging you to reconsider. Antibiotics are wonderful medications when used properly for bacterial infections. They have saved many lives. However, like any medication, they have side effects. Unfortunately for your gut, these effects can last long after you’ve taken the last pill and are feeling back to normal. This is because antibiotics can kill the bacteria causing your infection as well as some of the good bacteria in your gut. Some studies have shown it can take six or more months for your gut bacteria to recover after a round of antibiotics. So, it pays to be judicial about when you take antibiotics and to only take them exactly as directed by your doctor.
No large loads
In other words, don’t overload your gut bacteria by overeating. It isn’t good for them, it makes you feel terrible, and the calories are tough to shed.
No artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners have been associated with obesity and various other illnesses. They disrupt the natural metabolism of your gut bacteria and reduce the diversity of bacteria present.
Here at GastroIntestinal Health Care, we wish you and your gut microbiome a healthy, happy, and wonderful holiday season!