5 Ways You Might Upset Your Gut Microbiome (and What You Can Do About It)
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When your body’s gut microbiome falls out of balance, there are many ways it can affect your health.
What’s a microbiome? It’s the genetic material of all microbes-bacteria-that live on and inside your body. The good bacteria that contribute to your intestinal microbiome are essential to your health, development, immune function, and nutritional status.
Sound complex? It is! And it’s a delicate balance that can easily be disrupted. Here are five key ways your gut microbiome may be negatively impacted:1
- Stress. We all deal with stress, but when it becomes acute and chronic, studies show it can have a physical impact on the gut microbiome, even leading to such gastrointestinal disorders as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), peptic ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).2
- Birth Method. Studies show, babies born by C-section have reduced bacterial diversity and lower levels of good bacteria than babies born via the birth canal.
- Exercise. Lack of exercise has been linked to reduced bacterial diversity in the gut and when it comes to the gut, the more types of good bugs, the better. (It’s time to get moving!)
- Antibiotics. Taking antibiotics can disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut, as it kills off microorganisms—the bad and the good.
- Diet. Diets low in fiber and high in sugar can have a negative impact on gut bacteria. While fiber feeds good bacteria, sugar feeds bad bacteria, yeast, and parasites. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption can reduce the good bacteria in your gut.
Do any of these situations apply to you? Fortunately, there are a few things you can do. Lifestyle changes, like effective stress management and more exercise, and dietary modifications, including cutting back on sugar, are a place to start. In addition, a probiotic supplement can help support healthy and balanced intestinal flora by recolonizing the gut with good bacteria. When choosing a quality probiotic, work with your healthcare practitioner to select one with identified strains at clinically proven doses.
- University of Colorado Boulder. Gut Check: Exploring Your Microbiome. Coursera.
https://www.coursera.org/learn/microbiome. Accessed August 19, 2016.
- Konturek PC, Brzozowski T, Konturek SJ. Stress and the gut: pathophysiology, clinical
consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011;62(6):591-9.