How to Improve Gut Bacteria (10 Simple Steps)
Within your gut live trillions of bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and viruses, which together form your microbiome or gut flora. Before you get alarmed, it’s important to understand that a healthy, balanced microbiome is vital to your health. Many of these microscopic critters are essential for health. Others, though, can be harmful. This is why it’s so important to take steps to improve gut bacteria and build a healthy microbiome.
Although we don’t know the exact composition of a healthy microbiome–or if there is a single archetype–diversity seems to be a distinguishing characteristic, there are several “keystone” probiotics, and although there may be some “bad bugs” present, they should generally be held in check.
You may think that all you need to do is reach for a probiotic, and *poof*: perfect balance. While a high-quality probiotic can support healthy intestinal balance, many people will find that it takes a tad bit more effort to really dial in gut health and to ensure their microbiome is in harmony.
How to Improve Gut Bacteria
1. Consume Probiotics
In addition to considering a healthy probiotic supplement for an extra edge, there are natural sources of probiotic foods. These include sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kimchi, tempeh and miso, and kombucha.
2. Feed Your Biome
Did you know there are foods that your body is unable to digest that are actually like fertilizer for your gut bugs? These are often healthy foods like fibers, and they are often called prebiotics. The key reason to eat fibers (i.e., prebiotics) is to ensure the probiotics in the body are well-fed. Prebiotics to eat more of include high-fiber foods like whole grains (like oatmeal and quinoa) as well as a wide variety of vegetables and fruits such as asparagus, bananas, and onions. A good plant-based diet may be one of the best diets to ensure a healthy gut balance. Remember that it’s important to contribute to a balanced diversity of species as this system is highly complex.
One simple way to improve gut bacteria is to drink plenty of fluids (preferable water) to hydrate the mucosal lining in the intestine.
4. Avoid Feeding Harmful Microbes
If you want a healthy gut, that means you need to improve gut balance by feeding the good bacteria without feeding the bad, which can lead to gut dysbiosis (i.e., an imbalance of gut microbes). That means you’ll want to avoid eating a standard Western diet that’s high in unhealthy, refined fats and sugars, which are so prevalent in ultra-processed and packaged junk foods. Don’t just substitute with artificial sweeteners, though, as those can also negatively affect gut microbes as well.
If you find yourself spending much of your day doom scrolling, stressing, and feeling anxious, it’s time to chill out. Finding ways to manage your stress levels isn’t only important for your mental health, it’s also vital for your gut health. Even short-term stress can disrupt the balance of gut microbes. To improve gut health, invest some of your time in stress-management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and regular exercise.
6. Stay Active
Speaking of exercise, regular physical activity, done consistently, not only improves overall health and helps support weight loss and maintenance, but it can also improve gut bacteria and increase microbial diversity.
7. Rest Up
Practicing sleep hygiene is also vital for balancing your gut health. Sleep disruptions or irregular sleep patterns can negatively affect the gut microbiome and lead to increased inflammation. You don’t want to just get to bed but ensure you are getting adequate deep, restorative sleep.
8. Slow Down
Many people eat on the run or at their desks, mindlessly. Yet, to ensure optimal digestion, so you can absorb the nutrients, you need to chew your food completely. Slow down and focus on just eating during meals. This can help not only improve gut balance but may also support weight loss.
9. Watch for Food Intolerances
Do you notice cramping, bloating, diarrhea, rashes, fatigue, or pain after eating specific foods? You may have a food intolerance. Common trigger foods can include dairy, gluten, caffeine, eggs, and MSG. If you experience discomfort after eating, try removing problematic foods from the diet. You may quickly notice improvements in your gut balance.
10. Boost Collagen Levels
Collagen-rich foods, such as collagen protein powders, bone broth, and bone-in meat and fish, can also support balanced gut health. Collagen protein provides amino acids that are essential to supporting a healthy gut lining, which is a critical piece when it comes to supporting a proper balance of gut microbes.
Improve Your Gut Health: A Recap
Ensuring your gut microbiome is in balance isn’t just important for gut health: it’s vital to keep the balance for overall health. In fact, gut health relates to digestive health, immune health, mood and mental health, skin conditions, and heart and brain health, and it can even play a role cancer and autoimmune diseases.