Your gut should be home to over 100 billion bacteria, but antibiotics, pesticides, stress, and genetically-modified foods are just a few of the things that can weaken that diversity.  Your gut’s bacteria needs to stay healthy or problems like irritable bowel syndrome, gluten allergies, and even obesity can be more likely. Some even think the recent rise in autism, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis could even be connected to an unhealthy gut!    Let’s look at just 3 reasons why healthy gut flora are so important.
- Discourages Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is often difficult to diagnose from stool samples, but the key to the disease could be found inside the gut. Researchers looked at tissue samples from the intestinal walls of “447 newly affected and 221 non-affected people” and found an overabundance of certain bacteria types was linked to inflammation levels.  That’s just more reason to encourage healthy gut flora!
2. Promotes Digestion and Digestive Health
This is the big one most people are aware of and it probably comes as no surprise that bacteria levels inside your gut can help with digestion. Recent evidence suggests a healthy and diverse microbiome could even help with intestinal integrity.  Basically, that’s how the body separates the good from the bad. A healthy gut only allows what’s useful to pass through to the body.
- Supports Mental Health
When you eat a big meal, you stop when you’re full, right? Well, a healthy gut could even help your brain know when you’ve had enough by releasing specific satiety hormones.  It could also play a role in depression and anxiety.  Recent evidence even suggests a link between gut health and autism, with researching showing that probiotic treatments could help autistic children by improving bacteria levels.   Scientists are finding more and more about this gut-brain connection all the time!
One Final Thought
So how can you support healthy flora? Well, you could roll around on the bathroom floor to get your dose of bacteria (or any other floor, for that matter.)  But then, that seems a little extreme, and you’d be getting all the bacteria–good and bad. Recent evidence suggests a good diet and exercise could influence gut flora, so why not start a new fitness habit?  Of course, you could always just turn to probiotic-rich foods like fermented vegetables and yogurt. A high quality probiotic supplement is another surefire way to bridge the gaps in your diet.
What would you do to encourage healthy gut flora? Tell us in the comments!
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