10 ways to improve your intestinal bacteria, based on science



There are around 40 billion bacteria in your body, most of which are in your intestines.


Together, they are known as your intestinal microbiota and are extremely important to your health. However, certain types of bacteria in your intestines can also contribute to many diseases.


Interestingly, the food you eat greatly affects the types of bacteria that live inside you. Here are 10 science-based ways to improve your intestinal bacteria.


1. Eat a wide range of foods


There are hundreds of species of bacteria in your intestines. Each species plays a different role in their health and requires different nutrients for growth.


In general terms, a diverse microbiota is considered healthy. This is because the more species of bacteria they have, the greater the number of health benefits they could contribute to (1, 2, 3, 4).


A diet consisting of different types of foods can lead to a diverse microbiota (5, 6, 7).


Unfortunately, the Western diet is not very diverse and is rich in fat and sugar. In fact, it is estimated that 75% of the world's food is produced from only 12 plant species and 5 animals (5).


However, diets in certain rural regions are more diverse and rich in different plant sources.


Some studies have shown that the diversity of gut microbiota is much greater in people in rural regions of Africa and South America than in Europe or the US. UU (8, 9).


Bottom line: Eating a varied diet rich in whole foods can lead to a diverse microbiota, which is beneficial for health.


2. Eat lots of vegetables, legumes, beans and fruits


Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of nutrients for a healthy microbiota.


They are high in fiber, which can not be digested by your body. However, fiber can be digested by certain bacteria in the intestine, which stimulates its growth.


Beans and legumes also contain very high amounts of fiber.


Some fiber-rich foods that are good for intestinal bacteria include:



  • Raspberries

  • Artichokes

  • Green peas

  • Broccoli

  • Chickpeas

  • Lentils

  • Beans (kidneys, pintos and whites)

  • Whole grains


One study found that following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevented the growth of some disease-causing bacteria (10).


It has been shown that apples, artichokes, blueberries, almonds and pistachios increase Bifidobacteria in humans (11, 12, 13, 14).


Bifidobacteria They are considered beneficial bacteria, as they can help prevent intestinal inflammation and improve intestinal health (15).


Bottom line: Many fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Fiber promotes the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, including Bifidobacteria.


3. Eat fermented foods


Fermented foods are foods altered by microbes.


The fermentation process usually involves bacteria or yeast that convert the sugars in the food into organic acids or alcohol. Examples of fermented foods include:



  • Yogurt

  • kimchi

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kefir

  • Kombucha

  • Tempeh


Many of these foods are rich in lactobacilli, a type of bacteria that can benefit your health.


People who eat a lot of yogurt seem to have more lactobacilli in your intestines. These people also have less Enterobacteria, a bacterium associated with inflammation and a series of chronic diseases (16).


Similarly, several studies have shown that consumption of yogurt can beneficially modify intestinal bacteria and improve the symptoms of lactose intolerance in infants and adults (17, 18, 19).


Certain yogurt products can also reduce the abundance of certain disease-causing bacteria in people with irritable bowel syndrome.


Two studies showed that yogurt also improved the function and composition of the microbiota (20).


However, it is important to keep in mind that many yogurts, especially those that have flavor, contain high levels of sugar.


Therefore, the best yogurt to consume is natural yogurt. This type of yogurt is made only from mixtures of milk and bacteria, which are sometimes called "starter cultures".


In addition, fermented soy milk can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria Y lactobacilli, while decreasing the amounts of some other bacteria causing diseases. Kimchi can also benefit the intestinal flora (21, 22).


Bottom line: Fermented foods, particularly natural yogurt, can benefit the microbiota by improving its function and reducing the abundance of bacteria causing diseases in the intestines.


4. Do not eat too many artificial sweeteners


Artificial sweeteners are widely used as sugar substitutes. However, some studies have shown that they can adversely affect the gut microbiota.


A study in rats showed that aspartame, an artificial sweetener, reduces weight gain, but also increases blood sugar and decreased insulin response (23).


Rats fed aspartame also had higher Clostridium Y Enterobacteria in your intestines, both of which are associated with diseases when they are present in very high numbers.


Another study found similar results in mice and humans. He showed that changes in the microbiota produced by artificial sweeteners have negative effects on blood sugar levels (24).


Bottom line: Artificial sweeteners can adversely affect blood sugar levels due to their effects on the gut microbiota.


5. Eat prebiotic foods


Prebiotics are foods that promote the growth of beneficial microbes in the intestine.


They are mainly fiber carbohydrates or complexes that can not be digested by human cells. Instead, certain species of bacteria break them down and use them as fuel.


Many fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain prebiotics, but they can also be found by themselves.


The resistant starch can also be prebiotic. This type of starch is not absorbed in the small intestine. Rather, it passes into the large intestine where it is broken down by the microbiota.


Many studies have shown that prebiotics can promote the growth of many healthy bacteria, including Bifidobacteria.


Many of these studies were done in healthy people, but some studies have shown that prebiotics can be beneficial for people with certain diseases.


For example, certain prebiotics can reduce the levels of insulin, triglycerides and cholesterol in obese people (25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31).


These results suggest that prebiotics can reduce the risk factors for many diseases associated with obesity, including heart disease and diabetes.


Bottom line: Prebiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, especially Bifidobacteria. This can help reduce the symptoms of the metabolic syndrome in obese people.


6. Breastfeed for at least six months


The microbiota of a baby begins to develop properly at birth. However, some recent studies suggest that babies may be exposed to some bacteria before birth (32).


During the first two years of life, a baby's microbiota is developing continuously and is rich in benefits Bifidobacteria, which can digest sugars in breast milk (33).


Many studies have shown that babies fed formula have an altered microbiota that has less Bifidobacteria than breastfed infants (33, 34, 35).


Breastfeeding is also associated with lower rates of allergies, obesity and other diseases that may be due to differences in the gut microbiota (36).


Bottom line: Breastfeeding helps the baby develop a healthy microbiota, which can help protect against certain diseases in the future.


7. Eat whole grains


Whole grains contain a lot of fiber and non-digestible carbohydrates, such as beta-glucan.


These carbohydrates are not absorbed in the small intestine and, instead, they reach the large intestine.


In the large intestine, they are degraded by the microbiota and promote the growth of certain beneficial bacteria.


Whole grains can promote the growth of Bifidobacteria, lactobacilli Y Bacteroidetes in humans (37, 38, 39, 40, 41).


In these studies, whole grains also increased feelings of fullness and reduced inflammation and risk factors for heart disease.


Bottom line: Whole grains contain non-digestible carbohydrates that can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria within the gut microbiota. These changes in the intestinal flora can improve certain aspects of metabolic health.


8. Eat a plant-based diet


Diets containing foods of animal origin promote the growth of different types of intestinal bacteria than plant-based diets (42, 43).


Several studies have shown that vegetarian diets can benefit the gut microbiota. This may be due to its higher fiber content.


A small study found that a vegetarian diet reduced the levels of disease-causing bacteria in obese people, as well as reduced weight, inflammation and cholesterol levels (44).


Another study found that a vegetarian diet significantly decreased disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli (Four. Five).


However, it is not clear if the benefits of a vegetarian diet over the gut microbiota are simply due to the lack of meat consumption. In addition, vegetarians tend to lead healthier lifestyles than omnivores.


Bottom line: Vegetarian and vegan diets can improve the microbiota. However, it is not clear if the positive effects associated with these diets can be attributed to the lack of meat consumption.


9. Eat foods rich in polyphenols


Polyphenols are plant compounds that have many health benefits, including reductions in blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol levels and oxidative stress (46).


Polyphenols can not always be digested by human cells. Since they are not absorbed efficiently, most go to the colon, where they can be digested by intestinal bacteria (47, 48).


Good sources of polyphenols include:



  • Cocoa and dark chocolate.

  • Red wine

  • Grape skins

  • Green Tea

  • Almonds

  • Onions

  • Blueberries

  • Broccoli


Cocoa polyphenols can increase the amount of Bifidobacteria Y lactobacilli humans, as well as reduce the amount of Clostridia.


In addition, these changes in the microbiota are associated with lower levels of triglycerides and C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation (49).


Polyphenols in red wine have similar effects (50).


Bottom line: Polyphenols can not be efficiently digested by human cells, but are degraded by the gut microbiota. They can improve health outcomes related to heart disease and inflammation.


10. Take a probiotic supplement


Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that exert a specific health benefit when consumed.


Probiotics do not permanently colonize the intestines in most cases. However, they can benefit your health by changing the general composition of the microbiota and supporting your metabolism (51).


A review of seven studies found that probiotics have little effect on the composition of the gut microbiota of healthy people. However, there is some evidence to suggest that probiotics can improve gut microbiota in certain diseases (52).


A review of 63 studies found mixed evidence on the efficacy of probiotics in altering the microbiota. However, its strongest effects seemed to restore the microbiota to a healthy state after being compromised (53).


Some other studies have also shown that probiotics do not have a great effect on the overall balance of bacteria in the intestines of healthy people.


However, some studies have shown that probiotics can improve the functioning of certain intestinal bacteria, as well as the types of chemicals they produce (54).


Bottom line: Probiotics do not significantly alter the composition of the microbiota in healthy people. However, in sick people, they can improve the function of the microbiota and help restore the good health of the microbiota.


Bring the message home


Your intestinal bacteria are extremely important for many aspects of health.


Many studies have shown that an altered microbiota can cause many chronic diseases.


The best way to maintain a healthy microbiota is to eat a variety of fresh and whole foods, mainly from vegetable sources such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans and whole grains.



Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/improve-gut-bacteria






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