You are just full of bacteria. And that’s usually a good thing! Separate from catching whatever bug is currently going around the office, bacteria living within you can help your body stay in proper working order. In particular, the bacteria living within your guts (your gut flora) play a crucial role in staying fit. A lot of research has already been conducted to support this statement, but more findings debut all the time. One recent study has produced some of the first reliable and large-scale conclusions about gut bacteria’s effect on your daily and long-term life.
You get what you give
So what’s so important about gut bacteria anyway? According to the results of this study, and others before it, your daily lifestyle and diet have as much an effect on the health of gut bacteria as your gut bacteria have on your health. Healthy gut bacteria can help you lose weight, just like unhealthy bacteria can lead to packing on the pounds. There’s even a correlation between gut bacteria and your body’s reaction to jet lag.
Beyond your weight, gut bacteria have a surprising amount of influence on your body. They:
How being healthy helps you stay healthy
The primary study in question was published in the journal Science, and it’s noteworthy for a few different reasons: it’s the first study of its kind to focus on the gut bacteria of healthy people who aren’t sick in any way; the study looks at a large amount of people for its research; and, rather than examine only portions of the DNA present in the gut microbiome, this study mapped all the DNA.
By looking at participants in this manner, researchers were able to develop the baseline of measurement of what a healthy amount and variety of gut bacteria actually looks like. They found that certain activities can help or hinder the growth and development of the bacteria as well. To summarize their findings, though, the healthier your lifestyle, the healthier your gut bacteria.
How you can improve your gut bacteria
One good example the study found is that eating a healthy diet leads to healthy gut bacteria. Plenty of green vegetables on a daily basis, for example, help a lot, as does anything containing dietary fiber. In fact, one of the reasons fiber is so good for you is that it helps improve the health of your gut bacteria.
Another good example of food to help your guts is any food that itself contains bacteria, like fermented foods. these include kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage), sauerkraut and natto (Japanese fermented beans). Most famously, Greek yogurt is a great source of the good bacteria. That’s a primary reason that Greek yogurt is healthier than regular sugared yogurt.
Beyond diet, there are a variety of ways that you can create a beneficial effect on your gut bacteria. To sum them up, though, you should live a healthy lifestyle. Getting enough sleep every night, staying active in your daily life and eating well are all important factors. The healthier you live, the healthier you will be.
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