When you think of gut health you probably think of the foods you eat and probiotics you take as supplements. If so, you’re right! These two things go hand-in-hand in order to create a healthy gut microbiome. But what we don’t think about is what actually causes an unhealthy balance of bacteria in your intestinal tract.
Knowing what things contribute to harming your gut bacteria is the first step in keeping your gut healthy. Once you know, you can take action by modifying your diet and lifestyle, and start incorporating probiotics, like New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora, to help ensure your gut is in tip-top shape.
Why is gut health important?
Before we jump into the seven things that might be messing with your gut bacteria, let’s chat about why our gut health is so important.
Your digestive tract is home to trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms. This system works together with the bacteria to digest food, produce vitamins, regulate hormones, and excrete toxins, among many other things to keep your gut healthy.
But what happens when it’s not working properly? About 2500 years ago, Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” and he was right. Your gut has the ability to impact almost every area of your health. Your immunity, stress response, sleep, mood, behavior, metabolism, weight, and hormones all depend on the health of your gut. When your gut is impaired your immune system suffers and you’re more likely to suffer from frequent colds, allergies, joint pains, brain fog, acne, skin issues, and potentially, more serious chronic health problems. (1)
7 Things that could be Harming Your Gut Bacteria
- Antibiotics – Antibiotics were developed to help treat diseases and infections caused by bad bacteria. They definitely have their purpose and have saved millions of lives. However, antibiotics are being over-prescribed and used as a preventative treatment instead of being used only when absolutely necessary. This has serious effects on our health and our microbiome. When we take antibiotics they wipe out both good and bad bacteria. By killing off all the bacteria, it creates conditions that allow bad bacteria to take over. Just one course of antibiotics can negatively affect your gut for up to a year or more. (2, 3)
- Refined augar – A diet low in fiber and high in sugar has less diversity and is likely to contain more bad microorganisms. Refined sugar contributes to inflammation in the body and can stimulate the growth of problematic yeast like Candida. More research is also showing that a high-sugar diet may impair learning and memory by altering gut bacteria.
- Artificial sweeteners – Just because refined sugar isn’t great for the gut, don’t turn to artificial sweeteners. Non-caloric sweeteners may disrupt the gut microbiome and boost the growth of certain bacteria that trigger fat storage. Using sugar substitutes may change the population of your gut bacteria that play a role in metabolism and weight loss. (5, 6)
- Birth control pills – Chronic medication use can wreak havoc on your gut. Birth control pills can disrupt the good bacteria in your gut, making for a perfect environment that allows for an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and yeast. Research shows that aside from disrupting the gut bacteria, birth control pills can destroy your gut integrity. The pill can cause inflammation in the digestive tract and cause an increased risk for intestinal hyper-permeability or leaky gut. (7)
- Pesticides – Preliminary studies are showing the effect of glyphosate on gut bacteria. This research is still fairly new so there aren’t a lot of studies on long-term exposure. However, there are significant studies in animals. There have been studies linking glyphosate as a factor in the rise of both gluten intolerance and celiac disease, both of which are intertwined with the health of our gut. Research also shows that glyphosate interferes with a specific biochemical pathway involved in building amino acids. While this pathway is not found in humans, it is a pathway found in the bacteria that reside in our gut. When glyphosate comes in contact with the bacteria it inhibits the growth of any beneficial bacteria in the gut, resulting in dysbiosis. (8)
- Stress – Our health is dependent on so much more than just diet and exercise. Chronic high levels of stress can take a toll on our health. High levels of stress have been shown to signal the release of cortisol along with decreased oxygen to the gut. This results in changes in gut bacteria. While research is still new, it’s showing that high stress can alter the composition and diversity of gut bacteria by increasing harmful bacteria like Clostridium and reducing beneficial bacteria like Lactobacilli. (9, 10, 11)
- Lack of Sleep – Just like stress, not enough sleep can negatively affect our health. Just like our bodies follow a circadian rhythm, it appears that the gut also follows a daily circadian-like rhythm. New research suggests that poor sleep patterns and disruptions to our natural circadian rhythm result in dysbiosis. Lack of quality sleep, night-shift work, jet-lag and eating late at night may disrupt your body clock causing changes in your gut bacteria. In fact, two days of sleep deprivation caused changes to the gut flora and increased the abundance of bacteria associated with weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and fat metabolism. (12, 13)
How probiotics can help gut bacteria
Optimal gut health begins with your diet since what you eat directly affects the balance of bacteria. A fiber-rich diet with quality protein and healthy fats is best to support a healthy, balanced gut. This is right in line with the Nourished by Nutrition philosophy that focused on plant-centric whole foods.
However, since we are exposed to a number of factors that alter our gut bacteria daily, eating well may not be enough. This is where probiotics come in!
Probiotics are the supplemental live bacteria and microorganisms that help keep the proper balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut. Since we are exposed to numerous factors that hurt our gut microbiome like environmental toxins, constant stress, lack of sleep, antibiotics and high-sugar foods, a daily dose of probiotics is more important than ever.
Probiotics help ensure you are maintaining a balance of good bacteria in your intestinal tract. But in order for them to stay alive and thrive, they need fuel. This is why I love New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora.
New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora is a 3-in-1 blend that delivers:
- Prebiotics—unique fermented Aloe blend is food for the probiotics
- Probiotics—clinically relevant, DNA-tested & alive for the full shelf life
- Postbiotics—beneficial compounds released during probiotic activity for complete gut health.
Bacteria aren’t the only organisms in our gut, yet most probiotics only contain a variety of beneficial bacteria. New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora contains both good bacteria and beneficial yeast, providing a more complete approach to supporting gut flora than just having friendly bacteria alone. Saccharomyces boulardii is the yeast found in New Chapter’s Probiotic All Flora and it’s been shown to reduce problematic yeasts, such as Candida, and replenish healthy gut flora.*
I’ve been loving New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora and highly recommend this quality product. New Chapter is a brand that has a science-based, tested formula so you know you are getting what you pay for. Aside from the quality and unique formula, I love that this product is DNA-tested, non-GMO, certified gluten-free, 100% vegan.
Your gut health is important. Eating well can help keep the proper balance of good bacteria in your gut. However, at some point (if not daily!) you are going to be exposed to things like antibiotics, pesticides, lack of sleep and stress. All of which destroy the beneficial bacteria in our guts. This is why a daily dose of probiotics is more important than ever. Taking a one daily probiotic like New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora can help keep your gut healthy and balanced.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This post was created in partnership with New Chapter. All thoughts and opinions, as always, are my own. Thank you so much for supporting the sponsors that keep Nourished by Nutrition going!