We have a huge colony of bacterial cells, healthy and possibly harmful, in our GI tract. When our gut flora gets out of balance it can lead to more than a tummy ache; an imbalance of bacteria is linked to everything from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to mental illnesses such as depression. It could even mean an increased risk of heart disease.
As grim as this sounds, there is good news. A recent Harvard study cites that microorganisms in the intestines can be quickly modified in a day, just by changing some lifestyle habits. “That means it’s possible to start improving digestion at your next meal.” says Jillian Teta, N.D., author of Natural Solutions for Digestive Health.
Win the battle in your belly with a few simples tactics:
1. High-fiber fruits and vegetables, along with good protein, promote the growth of health bacteria. Limit refined flour and sugar intake.
2. Good old soap and water is the best way to clean your hands. Antibacterial liquid hand soaps contain triclosan, which may alter gut bacteria, according to a Missouri Wester State University study.
3. Eat fermented foods…pickled veggies, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt and kefir help boost good bacteria and help with digestion. A little goes a long way…a few bites 3 to 5 times a week is sufficient.
4. Take your time during your meals. Sit down to eat. Eat slowly and chew well. Don’t talk with your mouth full! “A relaxed state helps your body optimally digest your food,” says Teta. Eating on the run can create gas and bloating due to air in the stomach.