As far as our general health and well-being is concerned, obviously we don’t need anybody to tell us just how influential the foods and drinks that we consume on a daily basis are, in relation to just how healthy we are. You’ve heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’ and although it shouldn’t be taken too literally, when you pause for a moment and think about it, it actually makes perfect sense. If you eat junk food, you begin to look and feel like junk, because it contains no nutrients and is packed full of unhealthy ingredients. On the flipside however, if you consume foods that are rich in nutrients, you look better, feel better, and are much happier. One thing that many people tend not to consider with diet and nutrition however, is the fact that it is so important that we look after our gut flora and keep our digestive systems as healthy and efficient as possible. You may not realize it, but within our guts, there are literally billions upon billions of living microscopic bacteria, some good, and some bad. The more good bacteria, or flora, we have living in our guts, the healthier we become. Sadly, healthy flora levels can quickly diminish, especially as we grow older, but thankfully there are ways of restoring gut flora in a safe and effective way. Here’s a more detailed look at the best way to restore your gut flora.
What is gut flora and why is it important?
When we feel ill and unwell, more often than not, it is our stomachs that begin to feel unwell first, which is why unwell people often complain of stomach aches and discomfort. Within the gut, there are literally hundreds of billions of microscopic bacteria, also known as flora, located within the digestive system, especially within the intestines. This flora plays a key role in the digestive processes required for digesting our food, removing waste products, and extracting all of the key nutrients the body relies upon. Without these nutrients, countless other systems within the body will become affected and will suffer greatly, including the immune system, and various other metabolic processes. Put simply, if your healthy gut bacteria levels are low and imbalanced, the body itself will become unwell and imbalanced, and your health will be at a much greater risk than that of somebody’s with a healthy gut bacteria balance. What you probably hadn’t been told before, is that there are some specific vitamins that can only be metabolized via these gut flora, namely vitamins B7, B12, and K. Being deficient in any vitamin can lead to all kinds of harmful side effects and illnesses, so ensuring your gut flora is even and restored regularly is absolutely vital.
Why do gut flora levels decrease?
There are many reasons why people find their gut flora levels decreasing so much as time goes by, although some of the primary contributing factors are:
- Poor diet
- High fiber diets
- Not enough fermentable fiber
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices.
How to restore healthy gut flora
Now that we know what dietary flora is, and why it’s important that we have enough healthy bacteria in our systems, let’s look at a few ways in which we can restore healthy flora levels, shall we?
Reduce stress levels
Obviously this is easier said than done, as some people find themselves in some pretty stressful environments, but even so, there are things you can do to help reduce stress levels. Try listening to calming music before going to sleep, try going to sleep a little earlier, relax in a warm bath, read a book, and even consider trying meditation and other holistic relaxation techniques.
Consume probiotic supplements
You’ve probably seen probiotic supplements being advertised on the TV or online, but up until now, you may not have considered using them. Probiotic supplements are ideal because they help to deliver healthy and beneficial bacteria to the gut. These supplements are very quick and easy to use, and they have been proven to work extremely well.
Consider following the GAPS diet
The Gaps diet, or the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet, is a specially created dietary protocol designed to heal and nourish the body, including to help restore healthy gut flora levels. The diet eliminates complex carbohydrates, it places an emphasis on consuming fermented foods, it incorporates vast amounts of nutrient-rich foods, plus it teaches healthy lifestyle tips and changes.
Consume fermented foods
As mentioned previously, fermented foods have been proven to work incredibly well at restoring healthy bacteria levels within the human body, so consider consuming more of them on a daily basis. Some great examples of proven fermented foods that help restore gut flora include: sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, homemade natural yoghurt, kim-chi, Kefir, miso, and more besides.
Consume more raw vegetables
Another proven way of helping to restore healthy flora levels within the gut is to consume more raw vegetables, as these will contain more nutrients, and will contain more beneficial microbes which will have been living in the soil where they were grown. Always rinse veggies under clean water before consuming them, but if possible, try to consume more of them raw in their natural state, as this is a proven way of greatly restoring healthy bacteria levels within the digestive system.
Paleo diets and gut flora
Way back during the paleolithic era, the foods that cavemen used to consume were in a natural state, so they were completely organic and had not been grown using pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified ingredients. The foods were covered in extremely healthy microbes, which contributed to their healthy gut flora levels. By following a paleo diet, you are by default, helping to restore your healthy bacteria levels in your gut, which can only be a good thing.
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