Living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to ensure a healthy gut flora. Unfortunately, the Western diet has become increasingly limited in its variety of nutrients over the past five decades. The “American Gut Project” found that people who ate more than 30 different types of plant-based foods per week had a more diverse mix of gut microbes than those who ate fewer than ten plant-based foods per week. A lack of variety in the diet can lead to adverse health effects, but changing the diet can alter the profile of the intestinal flora in just a few days.
Studies have also shown that people with higher fitness levels have a higher level of beneficial bacteria, which plays an important role in metabolic health and the prevention of obesity. Enjoying a glass of red wine from time to time can benefit the intestinal ecosystem, as it contains polyphenols that increase the number of valuable microbes in the intestinal system. However, moderation is key - no more than two standard drinks per day, and stopping drinking alcohol 1 to 2 days a week or more if possible. Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer and damage to almost every organ in the body.
It is often implicated in common inflammatory bowel diseases and outbreaks of Crohn's disease. Quitting smoking increases the diversity of gut flora in the first three months after quitting smoking, which is a marker of a healthy intestine. Even short-term dosing has been shown to alter the composition and diversity of the intestinal flora, with a deficit that could last up to two years. Evidence is emerging that just two days without sleep can cause subtle variations in the intestinal flora, with an increase in the abundance of bacteria associated with weight gain, type 2 diabetes and fat metabolism. To maintain gut health, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle characterized by regular physical activity, low stress and a variety of whole foods.
Eating more than 30 different types of plant-based foods per week is recommended for optimal gut health. Additionally, it is beneficial to enjoy red wine in moderation and quit smoking if possible. Finally, getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy gut.