Our guts are filled with good and bad bacteria, and we all have our own distinct microbiome. Many of our decisions and actions transform, shape, and change this microbiome—sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad. If you don’t take care of your gut health, it could lead to painful and uncomfortable conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

If you want to restore gut health, here are some positive steps you can take. They’ll increase the good bacteria and kill the bad bacteria in your gut, so you can feel better.

1. Avoid Sugary Foods

Sugar and processed foods may cause negative changes to gut bacteria. Monosaccharides, in particular, disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut because they are easier to digest and are absorbed in the small intestine without the help of microbes, leading your gut bacteria hungry. To feed their hunger, the bacteria eat on the mucus lining of the intestine. Inflammation then occurs as this barrier is permeated.

Sugar also feeds organisms that can damage our intestines, such as candida albican, a fungus that attacks the walls of the intestines. Avoiding sugary foods can help prevent these problems from occurring in your gut.

2. Eat a Diet High in Fiber and Plants

When seeking to improve your gut health, it’s a good idea to change your diet to include more fibre and plants—particularly leafy greens. These greens can help promote microbiota diversity, which can lead to better health.

3. Reduce Your Use of Antibiotics

Of course, there are certain times in life when you can’t avoid using antibiotics, such as when you have a bacterial infection. However, broad-spectrum antibiotics are known to kill microbiota diversity because they can’t distinguish between good and bad bacteria in the body. When at all possible, skip the antibiotics for the good of your gut.

4. Choose Your Cleaners Wisely

Many cleaners today are similar to antibiotics—they kill everything in their path without discerning what’s good for our health and what isn’t. Studies show that getting dirty and being around a healthy amount of certain strains of bacteria is good for our health. Ditch the toxic cleaners and opt for a more natural cleaner, such as lemon juice, vinegar, or castile soap.

5. Take Probiotics

Perhaps the very best thing you can do to restore your gut health is to take probiotics on a regular basis. Probiotics can help restore the balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut to help ensure optimal health. An imbalance, which is called dysbiosis, has possible links to many diseases, including IBS, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.

A healthy balance, by contrast, which can be attained with probiotics, can help improve gastrointestinal motility and gut barrier function, while improving symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and many gastrointestinal diseases.

6. Eat Fermented Foods

Fermented products such as sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, and yogurt are known to have a broad combination of bacteria. This improves your chances of adding useful bacteria to your gut.

7. Lower Your Stress Levels

Stress can cause a whole host of issues on your body. It releases adrenaline and natural steroids, while also telling the immune system to release inflammatory cytokines. This can cause inflammation in the gut. Learning how to relax can help keep your microbiome diverse, vital, and healthy.

8. Work Out

Your gut bacteria will benefit from aerobic workouts. Studies show athletes’ microbiomes are more diverse than those of people who don’t work out. Other effects of exercise, such as metabolism changes, altered immune functions, and increased intestinal transit times, also affect gut bacteria in a positive way. So, it’s a good idea to get moving.

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