5 Factors That Affect Your Gut Flora

What is the Gut Flora

Your gut flora is based in your large intestine and consists of hundreds of different types of bacteria that are alive and doing various jobs in your gut. The gastro-intestinal tract consists of ten times more organisms than the somatic cells in the body, this equates to around 100 trillion, a lot right?


The flora is made up of both good and bad bacteria that do a variety of different jobs such as aiding with digestion, killing harmful bacteria, producing vitamin K and short chain fatty acids. Each different type of bacteria requires different foods and nutrients in order to fuel them to do their job.

However, if dysbiosis occurs (imbalance of good and bad bacteria) this can lead to:
-Insulin resistance
-Weight gain
-Obesity
-Inflammatory bowel disease
-Colorectal cancer

But what defines the type of gut flora we have? Well there are a variety of different lifestyle factors that contribute to it, living a healthy and balanced lifestyle is the best way to keep your flora diverse and happy. However, there are also factors that can make your microbiome worse and lead to dysbiosis.

1. Eating a diverse range of foods

Different types of bacteria require different vitamins and nutrients, therefore you need to be consuming a wealth of foods in order to fuel a variety of different types of bacteria. Changing your diet can change your flora after just a few days, therefore a few days of eating junk and processed food can alter your microbiome quite drastically. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is a great way to help the diversity of your gut flora grow.

2. Prebiotic

Prebiotic is a type of fibre that passes through the body undigested and promotes the growth of good bacteria. You can get prebiotic from a variety of different foods, or prebiotic supplements available from different health stores. Foods that are high in prebiotic include:
Lentils & pulses
Oats
Bananas
Garlic
Nuts
Onions

Prebiotic supplements promote the production of short chain fatty acids which are the main nutrient for cells in the colon. The absorption of the SCFA into the blood means a healthier gut.

3. Smoking

Smoking is one of the examples of a lifestyle factor that can be harmful for the gut flora. It increases the amount of bacteroides-prevotella which can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, air-borne toxic particles that reach the large bowel can contribute to concomitant increases in inflammatory bowel disease.

4. Stress

Stress has been a big factor in many cases of mental and other health problems recently, and it also contributes to the diversity of your microbiome. It lowers the number of lactobacillus which are extremely beneficial in the flora, it is also a leading cause of IBS and is associated with a changes in the flora via the central nervous system.

There are studies to show that their are links between the gut and brain, therefore changes in the gut can adjust brain activity and lead to changes in mood, autism, and other brain disorders.

5. Exercise

Physical activity is a big contributor to the diversity of the gut, and this doesn't have to mean intense exercise, but simply just moving, going for a walk, doing the gardening etc. Physical activity can increase the levels of butyrate, a short chain fatty acids and athletes have higher levels of Akkermansia, a type of bacteria that helps metabolic health and can help prevent obesity. So as well as the clear benefits of exercise, it can also contribute to a healthier gut.

Cya! 
Eryn 

References 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303825/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-things-that-harm-gut-bacteria

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