Good vs. Bad Gut Bacteria

Good vs. Bad Gut Bacteria

Gut bacteria can come in many forms and can be extremely vital to your body’s overall health. Your gut even plays a major role in how your body responds to foreign toxins and invaders. These organisms are so influential that they are often even referred to as the “second brain”. 


It is common to have a negative reaction when you hear the word bacteria. Bacteria has received a bad reputation and is often feared, but actually, there are many types of beneficial bacteria. Your body needs a wide variety of bacteria to maintain a well-balanced, healthy gut microbiome to support your body. An unhealthy gut microbiome plays an important role in the development of chronic conditions such as metabolic disease, gastrointestinal disorders, colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease, IBS, diabetes, obesity, and more.


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There is a reason though that bacteria gets this negative reputation. It is linked with numerousdiseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, strep throat, food poisoning, and many other infections.However, there is a distinct difference between the type of bacteria that can cause disease and the bacteria that is helpful to your gut microbiome. 


The more diverse your microbiome, the healthier you will be. This is due to many species of good bacteria contributing a wide range of health benefits. Bad bacteria can also live in your body and if kept at a lower number, can cause minimal harm. However, an imbalance of bacteria can cause issues and affect the effectiveness of a healthy gut microbiome. A healthy gut can lead to great overall health! It truly does all begin in the gut.


How can you get more good gut bacteria?


One of the main ways you can diversify your gut microbiome is to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fermented foods. 

Fruits, Vegetables & Whole Grains

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. Many people are also already aware of prebiotics and probiotics and how they are great for your gut. ​​For those that aren’t familiar, probiotics are living bacteria that add to the number of good gut bacteria in your digestive system. On the other hand, prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that act as food for the good bacteria. Both stimulate growth among the preexisting good gut bacteria.


The fiber, known as prebiotics, in many foods is not actually digestible by your body, however, the beneficial bacteria in your gut can digest the fiber. Therefore, this good bacteria feeds on these prebiotics.This results in less inflammation triggering your immune system and also helps your body avoid certain cardiovascular diseases and cancers.


Foods that are high in prebiotic properties include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Some studies suggest that prebiotics could also reduce risk factors for certain health conditions by decreasing levels of insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol.


Some great sources of fiber include:

  • Berries

  • Broccoli

  • Chickpeas

  • Whole grains

  • Apples

  • Bananas

  • Lentils

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Fermented Foods

Fermented foods can also be a great way to fuel different types of good gut bacteria. This is because fermented foods have undergone a fermentation process where the sugars they contain are broken down by yeast or bacteria.Many fermented foods naturally contain probiotics and when included in your eating pattern can support a healthy gut. Some studies conclude that probiotics’ strongest effect is after the microbiome has been compromised. Scientists believe that probiotics are one of the most effective ways to restore the gut to a healthy state.


Some great fermented foods include:

  • Yogurt

  • Kimchi

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kefir

  • Kombucha

  • Tempeh

Foods rich in Polyphenols

Many plant-based foods are also rich in something called polyphenols. Polyphenols are a micronutrient and human cells can not always digest this nutrient fully. So when polyphenols make it to the colon, they are then fed to and digested by the good bacteria. When you feed your good gut bacteria throughout the digestive tract, you are actively supporting a healthy gut microbiome. 


Polyphenols are awesome because of their wide range of health benefits including reducing blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and oxidative stress.


Some great foods high in polyphenols include:

  • Berries

  • Red wine

  • Grape skins

  • Green tea & matcha

  • Almonds

  • Onions

  • Broccoli 

  • Olives

  • Herbs and spices

The best foods for your gut

Wondering what else you can do to keep your gut microbiome healthy? Eating a variety of healthy, whole foods is the best place to start. For many people, seeking personalized nutrition advice can help them achieve this goal.

 

Personalized nutrition offers advice and eating plans that are tailored to your unique genetic needs. Instead of following fad and popular diet trends, eating according to your DNA allows you to develop a diet that is healthier and more sustainable in the long term. You can learn more about GenoPalate’s approach to personalized nutrition here.

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