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How to make good gut bacteria

These previously much-overlooked bacteria are now being associated with a wide range of human health solutions and problems. The gut flora makes up a world of microorganisms that populate our gastrointestinal tract. It is estimated there are about trillion of these microorganisms, called microbes. They are predominately made up of various strains of bacteria, but there are also some fungi and protozoa as well. Our relationship with the gut flora is considered to be one of mutual benefit.

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SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Best Foods for Healthy Gut Bacteria - The Exam Room Podcast

Gut Food - 15 Foods For Good Gut Health

As many countries urge populations to stay at home, many of us are paying more attention to our diets and how the food we eat can support our health.

To help sort out the fact from the fiction, BBC Future is updating some of our most popular nutrition stories from our archive. Our colleagues at BBC Good Food are focusing on practical solutions for ingredient swaps, nutritious storecupboard recipes and all aspects of cooking and eating during lockdown. But the science has a way to go before we know exactly what nutrition is best for your gut. BBC Future spoke to leading gut health and microbiome researchers to sift fact from fiction on gut health "wonder foods", probiotics, prebiotics and what changes to your diet could genuinely boost your gut health.

The interest in how to improve your gut health is so high because recent advances have begun to unpick how the microbiome affects many conditions beyond those affecting the digestive system.

Studies have linked gut bacteria — known collectively as the microbiome — to changes in mood and mental health , tendency to obesity and to cardiovascular health. For people who want to maintain a healthy weight and mental health, the goal would be a way to "hack" their gut bacteria. But finding a way to hack your microbiome might be harder than it sounds.

For one thing, like much of health research, even though a study finds a link between one food and an improvement in gut bacteria, it doesn't mean that food has caused the change in the microbiome. While headlines may be moving faster than solid science, some clear trends are emerging on things we can do to make a real impact on gut health, says Kevin Whelan , professor of dietetics at King's College London.

The majority of evidence supports that there are four main ways to do this. The first is taking foods or supplements with probiotic bacteria in them. These are bacteria that are generally thought to be part of a healthy microbiome — particularly common ones in supplements and "live" yoghurts meaning they contain living bacteria are called bifidobacteria and lactobacillus.

Eating as varied a diet as possible is probably the best way to keep a gut biome healthy Credit: Getty Images. That might seem like a logical plan — more healthy bacteria, healthier gut. But of course, that's just the start. It's not just about quantity of those helpful bacterial strains, it's about diversity. Each individual person might have types in their gut," says Whelan. Verdict : Adding a few strains of bacteria to your microbiome through taking a probiotic probably won't boost your gut health diversity all that much.

Just one letter different, prebiotics are a source of food for probiotic bacteria to live off, such as inulin easily confused with but very different from insulin or galactooligosaccharides. These molecules are often indigestible to humans, so pass straight through the gut to where the bacteria are.

While taking a probiotic may be like planting a seed, taking a prebiotic is like nurturing it by giving it the nourishment it needs. But again, this approach comes up against the same limitations as taking a probiotic alone. Verdict : "Prebiotics do not increase the diversity of the microbiome," says Whelan. So microbiome diversity is probably not achievable by swallowing a whole range of supplements. But there are ways to improve diversity by focusing on the foods you eat.

And in the evening, three or four different main dishes, and they will eat that for a whole year — bar going out occasionally. Even if your habitual diet is balanced, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and so on, having a predictable routine is not likely to do much good for a diverse microbiome.

Eating the same few meals all the time may not be the best for beneficial gut microbes - scientists say variety is key Credit: Getty Images.

Make sure you have wholegrains regularly, but not just wholegrain bread. Verdict : Evidence for the efficacy of specific foods is always questionable, but eating a varied and diverse diet of healthy foods is likely to lead to an equally diverse and healthy microbiome. Studies are also pointing to possible benefits from fermented foods such as kombucha and kefir. These foods, which have been made traditionally for thousands of years, have been studied in the field of "psychobiotics", which is when ingesting bacteria of a particular type has a positive mental health effect.

Some studies have shown that people taking fermented milk products had lower levels of cortisol , a stress marker, in their blood compared to a placebo control group, and also had a more diverse microbiome. While these results are promising, studies such as this are often small — with two dozen or so participants — and so larger clinical trials are needed before we can be sure, says Fonseca. In general, evidence like this needs to be put in a wider context for it to make any sense.

Fermented foods like the Korean staple kimchi are thought to aid gut health, but there is little scientific research to back it up Credit: Getty Images. People are like, 'Oh this is a natural way to do it, people have been eating these foods for thousands of years. Verdict : Fermented foods may help boost your microbiome diversity — but the science hasn't up with this craze yet to say with certainty either way. In general, when you see advice that says to eat particular foods or products to boost gut health, it's best to be sceptical, says Fonseca.

There is a long way to go before we can say there is an optimal diet to boost gut health. But the basic building blocks are there to build a diet that at least gives you a good chance of a healthy, diverse microbiome. While supplements like probiotics and prebiotics might be of some help, one of the best things you can do may be to ditch your routine and try something new. Share using Email. By Martha Henriques 24th April What should you eat to keep your gut biome in good shape?

Some old-fashioned advice, it turns out, may be the key. How dirty air could be affecting your gut health But finding a way to hack your microbiome might be harder than it sounds.

Probiotics The first is taking foods or supplements with probiotic bacteria in them. Prebiotics Just one letter different, prebiotics are a source of food for probiotic bacteria to live off, such as inulin easily confused with but very different from insulin or galactooligosaccharides. Microbiome diversity is probably not achievable by swallowing a whole range of supplements.

Fermented foods Studies are also pointing to possible benefits from fermented foods such as kombucha and kefir. Whelan agrees that some people may be taking fermentation too far. Around the BBC.

Gut Bacteria

Your microbiome is made up of beneficial bacteria that do everything from aiding in digestion to boosting your immune system and influencing your mental health. One of the best things you can do to help promote the diversity and health of your microbiome is make sure your diet is rich with probiotic and prebiotic foods. Prebiotic foods are foods that contain ingredients microbiota feed off of. Probiotic foods contain good bacteria that add more troops to your microbiome.

As many countries urge populations to stay at home, many of us are paying more attention to our diets and how the food we eat can support our health. To help sort out the fact from the fiction, BBC Future is updating some of our most popular nutrition stories from our archive. Our colleagues at BBC Good Food are focusing on practical solutions for ingredient swaps, nutritious storecupboard recipes and all aspects of cooking and eating during lockdown.

But we are by no means permanently attached to a diagnosis of Major Depression Disorder if that is what Mom and Dad kindly handed down. Each of us also has a complex collection of bacteria living in our guts — our distinct microbiome — that also has genes. Since there is much we can do to shape the environment within our guts, we have control over our microbiota and can compensate for the lack of control we have over our human genome. Our microbiome contains one hundred times more genes than our human genome, so in fact there is about 99 percent of associated genetic material that we have the potential to mold in ways that are beneficial to us.

10 Ways to Cultivate Good Gut Bacteria and Reduce Depression

Everything from weight loss to allergies is being tied to your gut health. So just what do these tiny bacteria do? Each body area like the skin, mouth, underarms, gut and more, have unique bacterial colonies based on the location where they live. These specific colonies living in specific locations of your body are a microbiome. Gut bacteria live in the digestive tract and are found primarily in the large intestine or colon. That remaining fiber feeds the gut bacteria. As the bacteria ferments this non-digestible fiber it creates short chain fatty acids which nourish the colon cells and decrease the risk of gastrointestinal cancers, modulate the immune system and help decrease inflammation throughout the body. When we feed our gut microbiome the things that it needs to be healthy, we can improve our own health.

COVID-19 UPDATE

Confused about what to eat and what not to eat? Live yoghurt is an excellent source of so-called friendly bacteria, also known as probiotics. Look out for sugar-free, full-fat versions and add your own fruit for a tasty breakfast. Yoghurt drinks can contain high numbers of bacteria that are good for the gut, far more than you would find in a normal yoghurt.

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What should I eat for a healthy gut?

By now you probably know how important your gut health is to your overall health. If not, you need to! Your microbiome is housed in your gut and the other openings of your body such as your mouth, your genitals, and your nose. When your gut microbiome is balanced, you stay healthy, you are in a good mood and you have a lot of energy.

The microbes in your gut can help you to get thinner, be happier and live longer. By Prof Tim Spector. Your gut microbiome is a vast community of trillions of bacteria and fungi that inhabit every nook and cranny of your gastrointestinal tract, and have a major influence on your metabolism, body weight, propensity to illness, immune system, appetite and mood. These microbes mostly live in your lower intestine the colon and outnumber all the other cells in your body put together. Conceptually, we should view these microbes as a newly discovered organ, weighing slightly more than our brains and nearly as vital. Intriguingly, no two microbiomes are the same — we are all unique.

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