The Role Good Bacteria Plays in Your Health

Learn how maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut can help keep you healthy.

The key to good health could be found in an unexpected place: Your gut.

Studies have shown that your “gut health” may play a critical role in maintaining a healthy body.

What is gut health?

This term, while admittedly unappetizing, refers to the millions of helpful bacteria (also known as your microbiome) that live in your intestines. Some of these bacteria help break down food and ensure you absorb nutrients, others help keep you safe from colds and flu.

Maintaining a healthy gut may help you:

  • Lose weight

  • Decrease inflammation

  • Prevent colds and flu

  • Soothe skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis

  • Absorb more nutrients from food

  • Prevent food poisoning

  • Control your appetite

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease

Eating too much junk food and processed foods and taking antibiotics and other prescriptions can harm your microbiome. Here are a few ways you can improve your gut health:

  • Eat foods that are rich in probiotics (good bacteria) like yogurt, kefir, kimchi and sourdough bread.

  • Fuel up on foods that help feed the good bacteria in your gut. These foods are called "prebiotics", and include fiber-rich foods like leafy greens, legumes, grains, bananas and dark chocolate.

  • Eat more foods that contain polyphenols, like blueberries.

  • Stay active, which helps improve digestion.

Always be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any diet or exercise routine.

Bowl of hummus with cut, raw vegetables

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