We tend to take our digestive system for granted and just assume it is a tract that helps to transport our food from one point to another point.The fact is, it is thanks to our digestive system the food that we consume is broken down and that helps in the absorption of nutrients that are essential for the well being of the body. And the surprising part is that bacteria play a key role in that. New found research shows the crucial role that bacteria, which colonise the colon, have on the health of an individual – which also includes key areas like lowering obesity, improving immunity and even in influencing our mood.
As per research, it has been found that our gut microbes could be responsible for our craving for a particular type of food.Further research shows that bacteria in our bowels could have a direct effect on our moods and personality traits. This could possibly be a plausible explanation of why more than half of those who suffer with irritable bowel syndrome are afflicted with anxiety disorder and depression. Although research has indicated these facts, it is still to be discovered as to how these microbes exactly have such a powerful impact on our body and overall health. A theory that has been put forth states that the by-products that are created, course through our bloodstreams and have an impact on our organs.
So do we bring about a change in our lifestyle to balance the good bacteria in our digestive systems? A few basic tips are –
Increase fibre intake
A little known fact is that the good bacteria that exist in the system are known as probiotics and are essential to maintain a healthy digestion. The key to increasing probiotics in the body is increasing your intake of prebiotics. It has been found that one of the most effective prebiotics for the human body is fibre upon which probiotics thrive. When we include fibre in our diet after consumption it travels down through the small intestine without being digested and reaches the colon where bacteria gather.
The biggest problem is that most of us eat less than the required amount of recommended fibre in our diet. A simple change in your diet by adding more fibre rich foods can make a major difference in the well being of your digestive system. And if your digestion is in perfect condition the overall condition of your health will be much better. To increase fibre intake you can add foods rich in fibre like barley, brown rice and oatmeal.
Increase your intake of probiotics
Even though probiotics are created naturally in your stomach, you can do your bit to increase the production of health-promoting flora by increasing your intake of foods that are rich in probiotics. An added plus is it could help you to lose weight. The research reported in the British Journal of Nutrition that individuals who consumed probiotics lost close to twice as much weight over 12 weeks, in comparison to those who were placed on placebos. One of the best options is yogurt which is rich in probiotics. To convert milk into yogurt during the process probiotics are added to it.
However, as most of the bacteria maybe destroyed during the process, you need to ensure that the label mentions ‘live and active cultures, which indicates that bacteria has been re-added. Some other good options include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso and kimchi which are also rich in probiotics. As of now there are no particular probiotics or the specific quantity recommended in which they need to be consumed per day. Consequently the best option is to try and derive probiotics directly from your diet instead of opting for supplemental sources. You could begin with something as simple as probiotic yoghurt for breakfast.
Go light on Antibiotics
By the advent of the 19th century antibiotics began to be seen as a wonder cure for a host of ailments, which was true to a very extent and still is. The downside is we as humans have become increasingly dependent on their usage, with most of us resorting to them without adequate medical advice. This unsupervised use can have a very negative impact on our body. The specific purpose of antibiotics is to destroy disease-causing bacteria in our bodies, but then they have not reached that level of sophistication to be able to distinguish between good and harmful bacteria.
If for example you are taking antibiotics as medication for a sore throat, besides killing the bacteria that is causing the ailment, they could also adversely wipe out the healthy bacteria in your stomach. As per a study conducted by the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) it is believed that close to 50 percent of antibiotics that are prescribed are not necessary. Therefore before popping that pill down your throat, you need to seek the advice of a qualified physician that it is absolutely needed, before you decide to take it.In case it is necessary to take the antibiotics you need to strike a balance by consuming a diet that is rich in prebiotics and probiotics that will help to replenish the good bacteria in your stomach.