Your gut has a direct connection to your brain via the gut-brain axis. If you have an unhealthy microbiome, your mental health will also not be so great. Here are some of the top gut destroyers that you should avoid to help improve the health of your gut.
- Stress – Your gut is sensitive to emotions. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut which then can affect your gut flora balance. Your brain has a direct effect on your stomach and intestines. For example, just the thought of eating can release your stomach’s juices before food is even put into your mouth. And this connection goes both ways. An unsettled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as an unsettled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal trouble can be the cause or the result of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are closely connected.
- Prescription Antibiotics – Antibiotics (means “against life”) broadly destroy all bacteria in the body as a way of eradicating disease. Certainly antibiotics can be lifesavers when used properly and when nothing else will work. Unfortunately, most people who take antibiotics never make any effort afterward to reestablish the good bacteria in their gut. There is now some evidence that the gut never fully recovers after antibiotic use. Dr. According to Martin Blaser of NYU’s Langone Medical Center: “Early evidence from my lab and others hints that, sometimes, our friendly flora never fully recover. These long-term changes to the beneficial bacteria within people’s bodies may even increase our susceptibility to infections and disease. Overuse of antibiotics could be fueling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations.” This statement was written in 2011 by Dr. Blaser.
- Sugar – Bacteria feed on sugar, mainly pathogenic bacteria that are sustaining an unbalanced gut. Yeast does not feed on yeast, it feeds on sugar. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American consumes between 150 to 170 pounds of refined sugars in one year! It’s no wonder most the gut of most Americans is terribly compromised!
- GMO Foods – These foods may contain an herbicide called glyphosate that is used in GM crops. Glyphosate has been found to upset intestinal microflora balance and furthering the growth of harmful bacterial strains. This can reduce the immune system, augment infection rates as well as influence mood and behavior.
- Inflammatory Gluten – Inflammation from wheat is a worry even for people who aren’t specifically sensitive to gluten. Amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) can provoke an inflammatory immune response in the GI tract by stimulating immune cells. This inflammation can lead to intestinal permeability which is a vital factor in the progression of autoimmune diseases.
- Alcohol – Alcohol abuse can cause dysbiosis which is an unevenness in the gut microbiota. Alcohol can also cause gut permeability known as leaky gut syndrome. However, there is an exception in the case of red wine. There are some opinions that, because it contains polyphenols that support probiotic activity, red wine actually “promotes” gut health. In one study, red wine was found to increase Bifidobacterium and Prevotella. This may have beneficial effects on the gut microbiome by lowering plasma lipopolysaccharides, a type of endotoxin that triggers an immune response.
- Lack of Exercise – Research has shown improvement in the microbiome after six weeks of exercise. However, the health of the microbiome declines again if exercise has stopped.
- Smoking – Cigarette smoking is one of the most important environmental risk factors for inflammatory bowel disease, a disease characterized by ongoing inflammation of the digestive tract. Smokers are twice as likely to have Crohn’s disease, a common type of inflammatory bowel disease, compared to non-smokers. In one study, smoking cessation increased gut flora diversity, which is a marker of a healthy gut.
- Lack of Sleep – Your gut follows a daily rhythm much like the body’s circadian rhythm. Interrupting your body clock by a lack of sleep, shift work or eating late at night may have undesirable effects on your gut bacteria. A 2016 study studied the effects of short-term sleep deprivation on gut flora composition. The study compared the effects of two nights of sleep deprivation (about 4 hours per night) versus two nights of normal sleep duration (8.5 hours) in nine men. Just two days of sleep deprivation caused subtle changes to the gut flora and increased the abundance of bacteria associated with weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and fat metabolism.
- Overuse of Antibacterial Products – The use of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers can contribute to the health of your microbiome because it can kill off the good and the bad bacteria. There have also been studies that have linked the use of these products with antibiotic resistance.
At Humfeld Chiropractic & Nutrition Center, we help people restore the health of their gut with Nutrition Response Testing and whole food supplements from Standard Process. Please call us at 507-333-5388 to start healing your gut today.