Biomes are distinct ecosystems defined by both their inhabitants and their environment. Your gut — located in your intestines — is its own microbiome, a microscopic ecosystem that exists within the larger picture of your whole body.
This microbiome is unique to you and consists of thousands of species of bacteria along with viruses, fungi, and parasites. Most of the microorganisms in your gut have a give-and-take relationship with you. You provide them with food and shelter while they ward off harmful bacteria and substances.
As long as your gut microbiome is able to thrive, you will too. However, if your gut becomes polluted, your body can start to feel the effects. A surplus of harmful substances in your gut has been known to lead to weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation, and colorectal cancer.
Because taking care of your gut microbiome is so important to your overall health, Ven Kottapalli, MD, CNSP, and the rest of our gastroenterology team at GI Physicians, Inc. in Lima, Ohio, want you to understand what harms your gut and how to keep it healthy.
Unhealthy habits that harm your gut microbiome
There are many different things you might be doing that you had no idea impacted your gut health. These include the following:
1. Not eating a variety of foods
Your gut needs a large variety of foods to thrive. The wide range of nutrients provided from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fiber, and different proteins can all promote the growth of healthy bacteria to keep you safe from the harmful ones.
2. Tobacco use and alcohol consumption
Not only do smoking and consuming copious amounts of alcohol regularly put you at high risk for multiple kinds of cancer, but these habits can also kill so many healthy bacteria in your gut. Without the presence of a healthy amount of gut bacteria, you can develop conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease.
3. Too much stress and not enough sleep
High levels of stress and low levels of sleep are known factors in poor overall health, and your gut is included in this. Without proper amounts of sleep, your gut becomes disrupted and won’t produce healthy bacteria, leading to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Research has also shown that elevated stress levels can completely alter the makeup of your gut microbiome.
4. Lack of physical activity
Any type of physical activity from walking to gardening to cycling all have a major beneficial impact on your gut health. Research tells us that those who remain physically active have a much larger variety of gut bacteria and reduce their risk of obesity than those who live a sedentary lifestyle.
5. Not having enough prebiotics
Eating foods with prebiotic fiber can greatly increase healthy gut bacteria, improve digestive health, and reduce your risk for colorectal cancer. You can take prebiotic supplements or find prebiotic fiber in foods such as lentils, oats, bananas, garlic, onions, and nuts.
Treating an imbalanced gut
If you’re struggling with symptoms of a damaged gut microbiome such as gas pain, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and poor digestion, don’t wait to come see our team for expert diagnosis and treatment.
We can help you eliminate unhealthy foods from your diet and recommend some prebiotic supplements. If your gut is overrun with harmful bacteria, further treatment might be needed such as antibiotics or an elimination diet.
For expert gut health care, look no further than our GI Physicians, Inc. team. Schedule an appointment by giving us a call or booking online today.