GREAT news: Improving gut health enhances wellbeing in more ways than you think
(NaturalHealth365) Having a healthy gut goes far beyond ensuring you have bowel regularity and freedom from gas, bloating, and stomach cramps. For example, researchers now believe gut health can even affect your mental health and that people lacking certain types of gut bacteria appear more likely to experience depression.
Now, recent research published in the journal Nature Medicine adds “significant” data supporting the link between what’s going on in your digestive system and your overall well-being. From helping you lower blood sugar levels to reducing inflammation, feeding yourself the right foods can have a tremendous impact on your health, namely by promoting the growth of friendly bacteria.
Your gut health affects your overall health in MULTIPLE ways, studies suggest
An international team of scientists from Italy, London, and the United States analyzed gut microbiome data, dietary patterns, and health outcomes from nearly 1,100 study subjects from the U.K. and the U.S. as part of the Personalised Responses to Dietary Composition Trial (PREDICT 1) study. They discovered that the healthier a person’s diet was, the more likely they were to have specific gut microbes (gut bacteria) in their digestive tracts.
For example, healthier diets were associated with greater levels of gut bacteria like Prevotella copri and Blastocystis. These two species are associated with improved blood sugar control following meals (post-prandial). Other friendly bacterial species were found to help control postprandial blood fat levels and even reduce signs of inflammation. All of these beneficial bacteria species were more prevalent in people with healthier diets.
On the other hand, certain types of bacteria found more commonly in people with poor diets were linked with poor blood sugar control and markers that forewarn of cardiovascular disease.
These trends were so robust that the researchers assert gut bacteria have a greater influence on metabolic health than factors like a person’s genetics! The researchers further suggest that the analysis of the gut microbiome can someday be used to help assess future disease risk, even in people who don’t have any symptoms yet. By determining how many types of good versus bad bacteria are in the gut, personalized diets can then be “prescribed” to beneficially shift the bacterial population – a literal interpretation of letting “thy food be thy medicine.”
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The bottom line:
A healthy diet is strongly associated with an abundance of friendly gut bacteria that are associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Which begs the question: what kind of diet will help these bacteria thrive the most?
Researchers find THIS diet promotes “good” gut bacteria
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the diet found to positively influence the gut microbiome, and overall health status is largely plant-based; the Mediterranean diet is a prime example. Whole plant-based foods contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that appear to preferentially “feed” healthy bacteria.
In other words, when you reach for your whole plant-rich foods, you’re not only feeding yourself. You’re also feeding the small army of friendly bacteria in your gut that actually have a major protective influence on your overall health. You’re eating for trillions!
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