Increasing the good bacteria in your gut naturally is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your gut health. A lot has been said about the best foods for gut health – the foods that help keep the good bacteria happy inside your insides.
First, let's talk about the microbiome.
Gut health looks different for everyone because everyone’s insides are different.
Registered Nutritionist Sarah Gray explains that the terms ‘gut health’ and ‘gut microbiome’ are linked.
“Gut health generally refers to the health of the gastrointestinal tract. Gut microbiome describes the trillions of microorganisms (mainly bacteria) that live in the gastrointestinal tract,” says Sarah.
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The main role of the gut microbiome – which consists of trillions of microorganisms called microbiota – is to help your body process food that isn't digested in your stomach and absorb nutrients. The microbiota are also known as ‘gut flora’.
So, if you want a healthy gut, one thing to look at is what could be affecting your gut microbiome. And then work out what steps you could take that may help, such as finding out what foods might help increase the good bacteria in your gut, naturally.
“The amazing thing about the gut flora, is that everyone’s microbiome is unique, just like your fingerprint. No two people have the exact same makeup of bacteria in their gut,” says Sarah.
If your gut is telling you something isn't quite right, listen to it and consult a health professional.
If the good and the bad bacteria in your microbiome are balanced, your gut health will be happy. If that balance changes, it's called dysbiosis which may be linked to a range of health issues.
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A simple symptom of dysbiosis could be an upset stomach or bowel issues. This may potentially fix itself when whatever has upset your stomach has passed, such as antibiotics, too much alcohol or mild anxiety.
There is also research happening on genetic dysbiosis, which means you could be more vulnerable to certain health conditions within your family.
Keeping the bad bacteria in check and making sure the good bacteria are thriving is one way to try to support your gut health. And in turn, it could possibly help your overall health.
“Gut health may potentially play a role in other things such as whether you’ve got clear skin or acne breakouts,” says Sarah, “Imbalances in the gut aren't just signs of gut issues, it could be bigger than the gut itself.”
If you think you might have some gut health issues, there may be things you can do to help restore healthy gut flora or bacteria.
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There may be things you can do to help restore the healthy gut flora or bacteria.
Gut health looks different for everyone. When you know what your normal is, observing and understanding your bowel movements may give you an insight into your gut microbiome health.
Consider taking steps to increase your good gut bacteria naturally. If your gut is telling you something isn't quite right, listen to it and consult a health professional.
Sarah Gray is both a Registered Pharmacist and Registered Nutritionist with a particular interest in health education and helping people to take small steps to big change in their health journey. Sarah is the Head of Health and Nutrition on the healthylife Advisory Board.
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board August 2021.