Diversity is the key when it comes to the healthy gut flora. Diversity ensures balance, a spectrum of functions and redundancies of these functions. We are going to talk about gut flora – and the top three factors that influence diversity of bacteria in our digestive system.
Top gut flora interruptors
Here are the top three factors that influence your gut flora and the changes you can make to keep your gut healthy:
1. Unnecessary antibiotics
Antibiotic is the number 1 disruptor to our gut flora. Research using molecular analysis techniques has revealed that diversity is diminished with every antibiotic use. After a single course of clindamycin, alteration of gut flora can last for 18-24 months and 4 years after a triple therapy! Some organisms never cover and become extinct in our GI tract.
Bacteria need nutrients just as we do. What we feed to our bodies, we feed the bacteria in us as well. Different bacteria thrive on different foods. To meet a diversified ecosystem in our gut, we also need to incorporate variety in our diet. Fiber is the primary food for most bacteria; therefore, you should aim for 5-6 servings of vegetables and fruits and 1-2 servings of complex carbohydrates daily, and eat a rainbow of colors so that you are getting a great mixture of soluble and insoluble fibers.
The Paleolithic diet or the Ketogenic diet has been trendy in the last few years. Watch out that high protein intake can also reduce butyrate (a main fuel for the cells in colon) producing species and reduce bacteria diversity. I recommend keeping proteins to 2-3 servings a day and select more plant-based proteins such as legumes which are also rich in fiber.
High fat diet can also reduce bacteria diversity. It promotes growth of commensal bacteria which causes no harm with low level but can cause symptoms when there is overgrowth. Meals high in fat can increase toxin absorption and some of these toxins can destroy cells in the colon and increase people’s risk for IBD or colorectal cancer. If you consume fiber along with fats, the fiber can help reduce toxin absorption.
High refined sugar and carbohydrates diet is the most detrimental diet for your gut flora. Yeast thrives on easily fermented sugars. The substances produced by these simple carbohydrates loving fungus or bacteria commonly affect people’s energy and mental clarity. Simply reducing consumption often provides great relief for people.
3. Environmental exposure
We often hear stories about people who grow up on the farm have better immune system or IBD doesn’t exist in the natives from the tribes scattered around the world. The ecosystem in our body is indeed shaped by our living environment and what we are exposed to. A great way to promote diversity of the gut flora is to increase exposure. While being cautious with parasites and pathogens, we should also embrace to the beautiful diversity that the earth offers. Gardening, hiking, camping or traveling are great opportunities for bringing in diversity in your ecosystem and train your body to live in harmony with the ecosystem of the world.