Trillions of microbes like bacteria thrive in the human gut making up the gut microbiome. The microbes include both good and bad ones which co-exist in a symbiotic relationship. These microbes play an important role in human health such as supplying nutrients, aiding in digestion, synthesizing vitamins and promoting cell and nerve functions.
Gut Bacteria Imbalance
Diet, stress, antibiotics, genes and other factors may cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome. When the good bacteria cannot suppress the growth of bad bacteria anymore, it will mess up the digestive function. The imbalance results in problems like diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating and other related symptoms.
Gut bacteria imbalance will also take a toll on overall health. An affected individual may feel more tired and develop sleeping problems, weight problems, skin irritations or autoimmune problems. To prevent the overgrowth of pathogens, experts suggest “starving” them by removing certain foods that fuels them.
Ways of Starving Bad Gut Bacteria
Stay Away from Processed Foods and Sugar
Too much sugar and artificial ingredients eliminate healthy gut bacteria which gives way to pathogens to multiply. These foods also trigger inflammation which can create bigger health problems such as obesity. Avoiding these types of food, especially the ultra-processed ones, will starve gut bacteria that cause many debilitating health issues.
Identify and Eliminate Food Intolerances
If you have food allergies and intolerances, you have a slightly different gut microbiome compared to others. Food allergy refers to the systemic reaction of the immune system where it attacks the allergen and releases histamine. Food intolerance, on the other hand, is the inability of the gut to break down a certain food.
Consuming food that triggers allergies or intolerance can wreak havoc on the gut microbiome. Thus, knowing your triggers and avoiding them is a huge help for the digestive system.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Acute and chronic body inflammations by themselves are not infections. Rather, it is an immune response to irritants. When the immune system encounters toxic chemicals and pathogens, it stimulates the inflammatory cells. Refined alcohol, sugars, low-fiber foods and highly processed carbohydrates are notorious inflammatory foods that trigger an immune response.
Consuming anti-inflammatory foods is beneficial in countering its effect and facilitating the healing process. These foods strengthen the intestinal lining and deaden the immune response to irritants, thereby reducing inflammation. You can get these benefits from high-fiber foods like berries, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, fatty fish and whole grains. Turmeric, avocado, olive oil, grapes and green tea are also beneficial in fighting inflammation.
Food alone is not the key to improving gut microbiota. If you are living with a chronic digestive problem, active and consistent exercise is also important. A dormant lifestyle leads to reduced energy levels that lead to poor digestion and imbalanced gut health.
When you are physically active, more oxygen is introduced into the blood and increases your core temperature. These are useful in helping the good bacteria bloom which will starve the bad bacteria. Cardio exercises like walking, swimming, cycling or jogging and consistently doing them are important steps in fueling the gut microbiome.
Have a Balanced Diet
Fiber-rich foods are gut supportive and you can get its benefit by loading on diverse fruits and vegetables. Consume a variety of them to get all the essential nutrients that your body needs and not just for mitigating inflammations. Most organic foods are gut-protective which will starve bad bacteria and encourage a healthy gut microbiota.
Probiotic foods like yogurt, pickles, tempeh, sauerkraut, and other fermented food and drinks are best when it comes to gut support. Probiotics are live microorganisms consumed for promoting overall health.
Taking probiotics encourages a healthy gut microbiome where good bacteria will prosper. When these friendly microbes thrive, they prevent the bad microbes from proliferating. In other words, the good guys will take care of the bad ones and promote better digestive health.
⇒ How To Make an Elderflower Probiotic (Video)
Get Some Sleep and Manage Stress
Lack of sleep is linked to many diseases like heart problems, diabetes, obesity and gastrointestinal issues. It also increases stress creating poor conditions for the gut flora. Getting enough rest and sleep can turn it around as the body will have time to repair and rebuild tissues. It strengthens the digestive system and provides a conducive condition for growing good gut bacteria.
Use Herbal Remedies
Herbs and spices exist not only to bring flavor to food. They are also rich in compounds that do amazing work in homeopathic treatments. The best thing is, there is a wide range of herbs you can use for improving digestive health. And, they are also readily available since many of them are almost pantry staples.
Here are a few wondrous herbs that can cure inflammation, starve bad gut bacteria and diversify the gut microflora.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a versatile spice used for many kinds of ailments. This rhizome is gut-supportive and anti-inflammatory. It treats nausea, dyspepsia, bloating, gastrointestinal motility and an array of related disorders. Ginger modulates the gut microbiota composition and enables the recovery of good bacteria to starve out the bad.
To get the most out of ginger, simply chew and swallow fresh ginger or prepare tea out of it. Just boil 2 to 3 slices of ginger root in a cup of water for 10 minutes and take it twice a day.
Like ginger, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is also packed with healing properties. It is a super effective antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory spice with a prebiotic potential. It can positively change the gut microflora composition and support overall health and well-being.
To support good digestive health, try this potent recipe:
Mix until well-combined: 2 tbsp turmeric, 1 tbsp ginger, 1 tbsp cinnamon powder and 1 tsp black pepper. To use, take ¼ tsp of mixture and add it to a small cup of water or tea.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) is a warming spice used in many pastries and confectionaries. Its bark or powder have a notable contribution to treating food poisoning. Cinnamon is notorious against bad gut bacteria including E.coli which causes food poisoning. Taking half a quarter tsp of cinnamon powder with a glass of plant-based milk provides immediate digestive relief.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is one of the handy herbs mothers use for treating colic in children. Its action is beneficial in treating many stomach ailments. It specifically targets bacteria that cause gas and it reduces inflammations in the bowel. Fennel feeds good stomach bacteria to help them bloom and dispel bad gut bacteria.
To effectively bring gut bacteria balance, take fennel water which is made by soaking 2 tbsp fennel seeds in a liter of water. Let the seeds soak overnight and drink the water in the morning. Start with a glass and gradually increase it to 2- 3 glasses a day.
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is an effective herb for the treatment of abdominal diseases. It helps with indigestion, acid reflux and other digestive disorders. Cardamom works against stress and flushes away toxins from the body as it improves blood circulation. It also stimulates the production of bile for better digestion and improved metabolic activities.
To improve your gut health, boil a few seeds of cardamom or its pounded pods for 10 minutes. Drink it lukewarm twice daily to curb digestive problems.
Maintaining a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut is not only about eating the right food. Your overall health and activity also affect how well your digestive system is working. Gut microbiome imbalance can lead to debilities, but you can still act on it before it gets worse.
Lifestyle changes, healthy food intake and proper care for your body can do so much in supporting a balanced gut microflora. Above all, good hydration is also necessary to keep your digestive system healthy.