Healthy gut bacteria is crucial to maintaining normal weight and metabolism. Unfortunately, several features of the modern lifestyle directly contribute to unhealthy gut flora:
- Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs
- Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
- Diets low in ferment-able fibers
- Dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils that cause leaky gut
- Chronic stress
- Chronic infections
We also know that infants that aren’t breast-fed and are born to mothers with bad gut flora are more likely to develop unhealthy gut bacteria, and that these early differences in gut flora may predict overweight and obesity in the future.
It’s interesting to note that the diabesity epidemic has neatly coincided with the increasing prevalence of factors that disrupt the gut flora. However, we don’t suggest that poor gut health is the single cause of obesity and diabetes, but we are suggesting that it plays a much larger role than most people think.
How to maintain and restore healthy gut flora
The most obvious first step in maintaining a healthy gut is to avoid all of the things I listed above. But of course that’s not always possible, especially in the case of chronic stress and infections, and whether we were breast-fed or our mothers had healthy guts.
If you’ve been exposed to some of these factors, there are still steps you can take to restore your gut flora:
- Remove all food toxins from your diet
- Eat plenty of fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
- Take a high-quality probiotic, or consider more radical methods of restoring healthy gut flora
- Treat any intestinal pathogens (such as parasites) that may be present
- Take steps to manage your stress