Although we have many types of bacteria throughout our whole body, gut bacteria that lines the digestive system and lives in the intestines and colon may have the biggest impact on your health. These bacteria affect everything from your metabolism, your mood, to your immune system. Gut bacteria paired with other small organisms come together to make up the unique microbiome of every person. In a healthy person, the microbiota will help protect the body from disease causing organisms, such as through contaminated food or water.

Family genes, the environment, medication use and diet all play a role in that type of microbiota that live in your gut.

Gut Bacteria & Disease

People who are sick or have contracted certain diseases have different sorts of gut bacteria compared to healthy people. Some illnesses that research has found links to the bacteria in your gut include.

Probiotic Supplements

Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain tiny organisms that are supposed to improve the “good” bacteria in the body. Although taking probiotic supplements has become increasingly more common to “boost” your immune system, the benefits of taking certain types have not been show definitively in research. Different types of probiotics affect the body in different ways. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether taking probiotic supplements may be beneficial for you.

Tips for Healthy Gut Bacteria

  • Eat a nutritious diet that incorporates high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Limit use of antibiotics to only when necessary (as determined by your doctor). In addition to killing bad bacteria, they also kill good gut bacteria your body needs.
  • Exercise can stimulate growth of a wide variety of gut bacterial to promote better health.

 

Sources: NIH, Harvard Health Publishing. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.