Researchers have shown a novel relationship between the intestinal microbiome and atherosclerosis, one of the major causes of heart attack and stroke. This was measured as the burden of plaque in the carotid arteries.
Sometimes, you have to take a course of antibiotics, and you want to restore gut health as quickly as possible. While you’re taking antibiotics and after, cutting sugar, drinking bone broth, taking collagen, taking specific strains of probiotics, and other things can help.
A new study reveals that Splenda causes intestinal overgrowth of the bacteria E. coli in mice as well as symptoms of a leaky gut. Learn more about what this study means for people with inflammatory bowel diseases and what you can do to heal your gut with diet here.
The gut microbiome is such an important aspect of overall health. Every day seems to bring more research about the many aspects of your body that are influenced by gut health. One important, but possibly overlooked topic regarding gut health is how it affects babies in the womb and their gut after birth.
Keeping Your Gut Healthy
For the most part, it isn’t difficult to keep your gut microbiome in good shape. There are certain foods to avoid and some to include more of in your diet.
Foods to avoid:
- Over the counter drugs like Advil, Aleve, and other NSAIDs
- (Too much) antibacterial soaps and gels
- Chlorinated water
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Starchy carbohydrates
Some of these are obvious, others not as much. While it makes sense to avoid drinking chlorinated water and steer clear of pesticides, most people over look consumption of gluten and/or sugar. Both of these foods are inflammatory and damage the gut.
Foods to include in your diet:
- Fats: Good for you and filling. Avocados, nuts, meat, and eggs are all good sources of fat that will help populate your gut with good bacteria.
- Pre-biotic foods: Fibrous vegetables support the growth of beneficial bacteria. Think things like sweet potatoes, carrots, and asparagus.
- Probiotics: A good quality probiotic with a high number of live bacteria is a great way to promote gut health before, during, and even after pregnancy.
- Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, and pickles are good examples of fermented foods. I can eat a half a jar of kimchi if given the opportunity.
Your Gut and Your Baby
In addition to the above foods to eat/avoid, there are other steps you can take to help your baby develop a healthy gut before and after birth.
- Avoid antibiotics whenever possible
- Vaginal birth. Again, if possible. There are good data showing that as a baby passes through the vaginal canal it will be exposed to “vaginal microbes that help to shape her immune system in beneficial ways…less susceptible to conditions like asthma and allergies, including food allergies”
Once your baby is born make sure to:
- Breast-feed. If not, use a goat or sheep milk based formula. So many beneficial bacteria are found in breast milk.
- Try placing some probiotic on the nipple for feeding. This will help to ensure that your baby is developing healthy gut flora. If using formula, add some probiotics to the formula. Of course, consult with your doctor first.
- Go outside. Simply being outdoors is so beneficial to the everyone, but especially babies. Most of the immune system is in the gut, so to have a capable immune system one must have a healthy gut. Being outdoors and exposed common microbes and bacteria will help to establish the immune system and gut. Not to mention the added benefits of sun light and social interaction.
- Once your baby can eat solid foods, make sure to introduce them to a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods. The greater the variety of food, the more diverse their gut flora will be, which leads to better gut health.
By now (hopefully) you know that your gut is filled with trillions of microbes, which constitute your microbiota and that your microbiota is very important in regards to health in many ways. Disease prevention, mood, brain health, etc. are all tied to the gut.
Food Poisoning is Bad For You
Yes, no shi..Wait. Not the food poisoning that has you laid out for days feeling like run over garbage. This study found that repeated mild food poisoning, in which you might not even notice, can lead over time, to your developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). “…recurrent low-grade bacterial infections may be a trigger in the onset of chronic inflammation.” Using mice induced with mild food poisoning, researchers found that “By the fourth infection, which had been separated months apart from the first, the inflammation had steadily increased and colitis was now present in all subjects.” Yikes. Though the infections leading to this situation are probably more common than previously assumed, the suspected cause of them can be reversed. “The disease mechanism was linked to an acquired deficiency of intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP)…IAP augmentation can be as simple as adding the enzyme to drinking water.”
Is the (proposed) newly coined term for the interaction between the gut microbiota and the brain. As one a very quickly growing area of study, the interaction between the gut and the brain needs a name I suppose. To get more specific, “mapranosis” refers to the process in which proteins made by gut microbes affect the structure of proteins found in the brain, which then lead to inflammation. This inflammation is what is believed to cause or worsen several different neurodegenerative diseases.
Fiber Will Fix Your Leak
Leaky gut, is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged, and allows for undigested food particles, waste products and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and into the bloodstream. Not good. A major component of leaky gut, and many gut problems is the mucus lining of the small intestines. This lining is there to keep your gut bacteria in your gut and out of the rest of you. When your mucus lining is damaged enough the above problems and more tend to occur. Dietary fiber is the solution. Specifically bifidobacterium, is what you need more of in your diet. Fiber can be found in many fruits, vegetables, and legumes. I myself am partial to broccoli and spinach. And I love some collard greens too.
Brown Your Fat and Shape Your Gut
Intermittent fasting (which I’m a big proponent of) has been shown to increase browning of adipose tissue. Which basically means the metabolizing of fat. In this study the fasting/feeding schedule was an every other day fast. The results were promising, showing an increase in “…beige fat development within white adipose tissue and dramatically ameliorates obesity, insulin resistance, and hepatic steatosis.” The study also found that the fasting schedule significantly improved gut health via an increase in “…fermentation products acetate and lactate and to the selective upregulation of monocarboxylate transporter 1 expression in beige cells.”
Sugar, Drugs, Addiction
The ongoing opioid problem in the U.S. is very serious. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned in regards to the problem is sugar. Like so many health issues, sugar is a part of the opioid problem as well. Opioid addiction is associated with a poor diet in general and specifically with food high in refined sugars. A study attempted to find some causality instead of just correlations. In mice they found a diet high in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) would “…dampen the reward associated with oxycodone and may therefore encourage consumption of higher quantities of the drug.”
Exercise And Gut Health
There is a lot of research being done regarding the gut microbiome as of late. Gut health is so important for so many processes in the body. One easy way to improve your gut health is to exercise. That’s it. A recent study found that exercise alone, independent of diet can improve gut health. That’s not to say that eating in a way to promote healthy gut bacteria is not also ideal, but one step at a time, I suppose. “Two studies — one in mice and the other in human subjects — offer the first definitive evidence that exercise alone can change the composition of microbes in the gut.” The exercise in this case, was “…cardiovascular exercise for 30-60 minutes three times a week for six weeks.” While the results were seen in both obese and lean participants, greater results were achieved in lean participants.