5 Things Destroying Your Gut Health
Healthy food stimulates healthy bacteria. The reverse is also true. Diets low in fiber and high in sugar and meat have less bacterial diversity and contain more of the "bad" bacteria associated with obesity. Find out our top "gut busters" to avoid for a healthier digestive track.
Heating fermented foods, such as kimchi or sauerkraut, can kill some of the good bacteria. For optimal benefits, keep these foods refrigerated and below 115°F. Many of the fermented foods that are produced for mass production are pasteurized – a form of heat sterilization that destroys the live cultures. (Freezing, however, is fine.) Look for the words live or active cultures on the label, and shop the refrigerated section of the supermarket to ensure that those good-for-you-bacteria are still alive!
Early studies are finding that these non-caloric sweeteners may disrupt the microbiome, boosting the growth of certain bacteria that trigger fat storage. The sugar substitutes may change the population of intestinal bacteria that direct our metabolism – the action that converts food into either energy or stored fuel.
While preliminary findings do warrant more research, we aren’t seeing the weight-loss benefits one would expect from artificial sweeteners, and a shift in the balance of gut bacteria may well be the reason.
There’s a growing body of evidence which supports the idea that a high-sugar diet may impair learning and memory by altering gut bacteria. Some researchers are even referring to Alzheimer’s disease as type 3 diabetes, as insulin resistance may be one of the major factors that starts the brain damage decline, potentially leading to Alzheimer’s disease. Refined sugar stimulates the growth of Candida, a bad bacteria that eats away at your gut lining.
A diet of highly-processed foods has been linked to a less diverse gut, limiting the amounts of good-for-you bacteria.
A recent study evaluated the effect of emulsifiers—ingredients added to many processed foods to improve texture, flavor, and extend shelf life—on the gut, and found them to increase inflammation. These new findings add to those of a 2014 study by the same group, which found that emulsifiers promoted inflammatory bowel disease. These additives go by many different names, making them difficult to identify on labels. Cut back on processed foods, and you’ll likely reduce intake of these gut-busting-agents.
Medication whose name literally translates to "against life," antibiotics are used to treat and prevent infections caused by “bad” bacteria. Antibiotics are not selective when it comes to killing bugs and wipe out everything in their path, both good and bad bacteria. Both during and after a round of antibiotics, load up on probiotic-rich foods to start the replenishing process.