The human gut is home to over 100 trillion bacteria, known as the “gut flora.” Having a healthy gut flora is incredibly important for your overall health. Interestingly, many diets, lifestyle and other environmental factors can negatively affect your gut bacteria.
Without further ado, here are surprising things that can cause harm to your gut bacteria.
Not Eating a Diverse Range of Foods
Generally, a rich and diverse gut flora is considered to be a healthy one.
A lack of diversity within the gut bacteria limits recovery from harmful influences, such as infection or antibiotics.
A diet consisting of a wide variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can lead to a more diverse gut flora. In fact, changing up your diet can alter your gut flora profile after only a few days.
This is because the food you eat provides nutrients that help bacteria grow. A diet rich in whole foods provides your gut with a variety of nutrients that help promote the growth of different types of bacteria, resulting in a more diverse gut flora.
Lack of Prebiotics in the Diet
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that passes through the body undigested and promotes the growth and activity of friendly gut bacteria.
Many foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains, naturally contain prebiotic fiber. A lack of them in the diet may be harmful to your overall digestive health.
Foods high in prebiotics include:
- Lentils, chickpeas and beans
- Jerusalem artichokes
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Alcohol is addictive, highly toxic and can have harmful physical and mental effects when consumed in large amounts. In terms of gut health, chronic alcohol consumption can cause serious problems, including dysbiosis.
Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals, 70 of which can cause cancer. Smoking causes harm to nearly every organ in the body and raises the risk of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.
Cigarette smoking is also one of the most important environmental risk factors for inflammatory bowel disease, a disease characterized by ongoing inflammation of the digestive tract.
In one study, smoking cessation increased gut flora diversity, which is a marker of a healthy gut.