Look after Your Gut Bacteria

That rather unappetising title , reveals the importance of whats inside us all, bacteria. Its all about balance. If you restrict the variety of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, milk, chocolate, nuts, pulses, seeds and other foods, you will also restrict the numbers of bacteria that thrive on those things and so lessen the benefits that they bring. Your well-being and weight are two of the things that gut bacteria have a major effect on.

There are good bacteria and bad bacteria. So to keep the bad ones down, there needs to be a supply of nutrients for the good bacteria. The health of us all depends on having a good immune system. The immune system is boosted when the full , wide variety of foods are consumed , in the right amounts and reciprocally when you don’t get enough of the right foods, your immune system will not be at its best. Incredibly, if you keep coming down with colds for example it could be because your gut doesn’t have the right balance of bacteria, due to your diet being too restrictive.

Don’t be stuck with habits! Just because everyone else has cornflakes for breakfast….. try something new, even if its just once a week. After 50 years of cereal breakfasts, last week I moved on to a couple of days a week of Salmon breakfasts,  with houmous, peppery salad leaves and soft cheese.  I saw an immediate change, come 10:30 when I would normally be looking for a couple of biscuits with my morning coffee, I just didn’t need them after the slice of salmon breakfast, over a year that’s going to be a huge change, it could add up to a big weight loss. In fact when you put together all the benefits gained when your gut bacteria are at their best, it can add up to 1 or 2 pounds weight loss every week.  That’s no effort, no gym, no starvation dieting, just getting the bacteria working as it should!

Not only does your diet affect your weight, it affects your sleep too. With the right intake of fibre, there is now research that shows, your sleep patterns will improve dramatically, the other thing that affects sleep, is of course stress, so try to avoid  stress if at all possible. On the opposite side, the bad bacteria thrive on saturated fat and sugar, so this is to be avoided especially after 6pm, if you want the best sleep.

Yoghurt and Cheese are more prevalent in continental europe especially France, where the incidence of heart disease and obesity are much lower. Benefits from all the good bacteria in different types of cheese, cottage cheese, mozarella, gouda, feta and the blue  cheeses Roquefort, gorgonzola, stilton etc., all have good high numbers of lactobacillus plantarum  which will produce anti inflammatory chemicals.

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Sugar, honey, syrups and sweeteners of the artificial kind are best avoided. Blood sugar levels shooting up after sugar consumption, can’t be good for you, keep these to the minimum possible. Artificial sweeteners although the scientific evidence is not 100% conclusive would seem to boost the bad bacteria in the gut. These are in general the most common offenders when keeping the hormone insulin under control and the development of diabetes and obesity.

I included meat in my list of variety of foods above. However, processed meat stands out as a bad guy, in several ways. Bacon, burgers and sausages generally contain a lot of salt and sugar. Making these your breakfast of choice  will raise blood pressure, your weight and lower considerably the variety of gut bacteria you have. The bad bacteria, responsible for inflammation of the gut and long term obesity will be boosted. In processed foods, an amount of chemical emulsifier is frequently added , to improve  shelf life  This is thought to  increase the numbers of the bacteria which can deteriorate the lining of the gut and so cause the inflammation.  I would definitely make processed meat products an ‘occasional’ food and not a regular one. If it is your favourite breakfast, as it is mine, buy from a reputable butcher who makes sausages on the premises doesn’t add any preservatives and slices the bacon on demand, rather than buy the supermarket prepacked variety.

The modern obesity epidemic is being accelerated by the fact that if your diet has a lot of the same food ie. less variety than is needed, and that food is processed food, the wrong sort of bacteria will be in charge, the good bacteria can’t do their job and so you will tend to continue to eat the same diet , making the situation worse and worse