The interplay between lifestyle, diet, and the gut microbiota has been well-established.
Having a poor diet, experiencing chronic stress, not sleeping well, and being physically inactive takes its toll on gut health, and in turn, it affects your whole well-being.
Maintaining proper gut health by keeping the bacteria in the gut balanced is imperative for staying healthy and in good shape.
Keeping this balance is important because any damage to the gut flora will disrupt the homeostasis in the body and may lead to oxidative and inflammatory processes.
A recently published review in the journal Nutrients details how lifestyle and specific dietary ingredients affect gut health, and we’ll brief you on it.
As expected, diet is the single most important factor for gut health, and long-term dietary habits will result in positive or negative changes over time.
The predominant dietary patterns around the world are the Western, Mediterranean, and Vegetarian diets, each with a very different nutritional profile.
While the Western diet is predominant in processed foods high in fat and sugar, the Mediterranean and the Vegetarian diets focus on fruit, veggies, legumes, and fiber, and for the Mediterranean diet, seafood and dairy.
However, emotional stress and other psychological and physiological factors can often affect the gut, and these also need to be taken into consideration.
The review discusses several dietary ingredients and lifestyle factors.
Here are the highlights:
Probiotics are known to prevent gastrointestinal and respiratory infections by inhibiting pathogen growth in the gut and stimulating the immune system.
The intake of probiotics, whether through capsules or fermented milks, is very favorable for the gut microbiota, especially the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, and in recent years, some yeast, like Saccharomyces boulardii.
However, for optimal results, probiotics need to be taken continuously, as they tend to leave the body a few days after you stop taking them.
Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut and reduce the pathogens.
They are still being researched, but so far it has been shown that they have immunomodulatory properties, and may even exhibit anti-inflammatory effects.
The intake of fiber should, therefore, be a part of your regular diet.
Alcohol, Sugar, and Fat
Alcohol abuse has been linked to several different inflammatory conditions, like intestinal, liver, heart disease, and others.
Needless to say that excessive alcohol intake negatively impacts the gut microbiota by causing inflammation in the body which damages the intestinal barrier.
This also applies to refined sugar and sweeteners, and refined fats, which also have detrimental effects on your health.
But, sugars and fats not only affect insulin metabolism but they lower bacteria diversity in the gut, making it more vulnerable.
Stress refers to either acute or chronic emotional stress that affects the whole body on a daily basis.
Stress is often related to life events and the way an individual reacts to them.
Often, stress affects the person’s behavior and physiology, which in turn affects their health maintenance.
In addition, stress has also been linked with a high prevalence of intestinal issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, found in depressed and anxious individuals.
In fact, the intake of probiotics has been known to help with symptoms of anxiety, proving that there is also a connection between the gut and the brain.
Gut health depends on more than one factor, and paying close attention to all of them is the right approach to keep the microbiota balanced and your health protected.
If you’re interested in taking some high-quality prebiotics, you can check out our Prebiotic+ resistant starch complex that features a blend of natural prebiotics for optimal comfort.
Resource: Redondo-Useros, N.; Nova, E.; González-Zancada, N.; Díaz, L.E.; Gómez-Martínez, S.; Marcos, A. Microbiota and Lifestyle: A Special Focus on Diet. Nutrients 2020, 12, 1776. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061776