Foods to Avoid for a Healthy Gut
It may be hard to imagine because bacteria is known to be a negative thing. The trillions of microorganisms living in your digestive tract make up our microbiome. Over the past decade, research has brought to light how important our microbiome is. It maintains our overall health, including digestion, immunity, fat storage, and heart health. The list goes on and it’s our job to keep our microbiome in check to ensure our bodies function in a healthy way.
There have even been studies that suggest a healthy gut may help clear up skin conditions, such as eczema and acne. It may also make you less susceptible to stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s clear to see what we meant by every aspect of health.
The trick to maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is a balance. The goal is to have the “good” bacteria to outweigh the “bad” bacteria. Many health implications will come from it if it is unbalanced. This includes things like a compromised immune system, inflammation, more fat storage, and more. Sadly, “good” bacteria do not simply just flourish on their own. Especially depending on what you eat.
There are a lot of factors that are out of our co9ntrol when it comes to maintaining a healthy microbiome including, where you live, where you were raised, and personal lifestyle. Although these factors may be out of our control, for the most part, there is one way to aid in healthy gut bacteria flourishment: what you eat.
The important thing to understand is that, yes, there are gut healing things that you should be eating such as fermented foods, however, simply adding those to your diet is not enough. Your gut health highly depends on entire diet, so that means cutting out particular foods to ensure a prime homeostasis for the “good” bacteria to grow. Here are three things to avoid when focusing on a healthy gut:
1. Artificial Sweeteners
It is a common misconception that just because it’s not actual sugar or “sugar-free” but still somehow sweet, then it must be healthy. That is just wrong on so many levels and we hope to bring some light to the situation. Research suggests that sucralose—the main ingredient in Splenda—can significantly alter the balance of bacteria in the microbiome. After consuming artificial sweeteners for just one week, many of the participants began to develop glucose intolerance—the first step on a path to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and a multitude of other health issues. Pretty scary and yet all too real.
This doesn’t mean you have to be sad and never eat sweets again. Just go the natural route that won’t destroy your insides. There are plenty of ways to sweeten things up without resorting to the fake stuff including Agave nectar, honey, coconut sugar and more. However, use caution even with these real sugars. Consume real sugar in moderation.
2. Conventional Meats and Poultry
Antibiotics are the go-to cure that doctors prescribe to fix minor health issues. They work because there number one job is to kill all bacteria. Not so great for the good guys trying to keep your gut healthy. Antibiotics don’t discriminate—they go after good and bad bacteria alike. While you shouldn’t refuse the meds your doc prescribes, it is important to note that research shows consuming antibiotics when unnecessary can do serious damage to your gut flora.
We bring this up because many conventional meats have been treated with antibiotics. While the use of some antimicrobial drugs in livestock to treat diseases is approved by the FDA, concerns arise when they’re used to help animals gain weight or when drugs intended for human consumption are given to animals, which has been linked to antibiotic resistance in humans. As you can see, there are some major flaws with this system.
Solution? Buy organic, free range, grass fed, grain free meats. It might be more expensive than the conventional kind, but you can make it easier on your wallet by going to a local butcher or farmer’s market, or buying in bulk and freezing leftovers for later. “Natural” can also be cheaper and still “antibiotic free,” but this isn’t always necessarily true. Do your research before or pay close attention to the labels. Look for labels that clearly have “antibiotic free” or “no hormones” printed on them.
3. Genetically Modified Soy
Unfortunately, if you’re eating them in the U.S., they most likely have been, as 94 percent of soybeans in America are GM. The herbicide used on GMO crops in the U.S. has been shown to kill off many species of beneficial gut bacteria in animals. There has not been enough research to prove the same for humans but it’s safe to assume that it’s definitely not good for us. GM soy also contains phytic acid, negatively affects digestion and has been linked to gastric issues. It’s best to just avoid soy, but if you love the stuff, then go for non-GM soy and eat it fermented.
End of Story
Get your bacteria back on track by cutting back on the above items, adding in beneficial foods for your gut, and taking a probiotic supplement. It’s never too late to make a change in your health, there is actually no better time than now!