6 ways to improve your intestinal flora

intestinal flora

You’ve heard about it in yogurt ads and you’ve read about it in nutrition magazines, but do you really know what intestinal flora is and why is it important to keep it in good condition? In case you are still a bit confused on this issue, here we tell you everything you need to know.

What is the intestinal flora?

The intestinal flora or microbiota is the set of bacteria that live in our intestines habitually . These bacteria have a symbiotic relationship with humans that we both need: they live and feed there and in the process they help us break down the food we eat so that we can absorb the nutrients that are useful to us and discard the rest.

For the most part, these bacteria are not dangerous for humans: it is estimated that 2,000 different species of bacteria live in our interior , and only 100 can pose a risk to our health.

Living in our intestines, intestinal bacteria perform different functions. The main one is to help us digest the foods we eat, but they are also essential for the generation of some vitamins (the K and those of group B) and it is increasingly clear that they play an important role in the immune system , as well as that they are related to our mental health .

Ten ways to improve it

Being so related to the digestive system, what you eat has a great influence on the maintenance of the intestinal microbiota. Here are six tips you can put into practice to care for and improve your intestinal flora.

1. Follow a varied diet

In general it is considered that a varied microbiota is a healthy microbiota , because the more species you have, the more benefits they can provide you.

A varied diet can help you have a more diverse flora . Unfortunately, our diet is not always: it is estimated that 75% of the food produced worldwide comes from 12 plants and 5 animals . Some studies have shown that the diversity of the microbiota is greater in inhabitants of rural areas of Africa and South America than in Europe or the United States.

It is in your power to expand your range of foods to include more variety and thus help your intestinal flora to diversify.

2. Eat lots of vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits

Fruit and vegetables are rich in fiber , which cannot be digested by our body but can be digested by certain bacteria, while stimulating their growth. The same goes for legumes and seeds.

So if you are interested in the health of your microbiota, you would do well to consume artichokes, raspberries, lentils, beans or whole grains. All of them are foods with a high fiber content.

3. Eat fermented foods

The fermented foods are those microorganisms that have been used to modify some of its components, typically yeast to convert sugars into organic acids or alcohols. Some examples are yogurt, kefir or kombucha.

These products are rich in lactobacilli , a type of bacteria beneficial to health, and therefore consume them can be a good way to nourish our microbiota.

However, we must also remember that yogurt, especially flavored ones, can have a high content of added sugars and that is why it is best to take it naturally and add fruit or nuts, for example.

4. Limit artificial sweeteners

The artificial sweeteners are used as sugar substitutes, and although they have fewer calories, some studies suggest that may adversely affect the intestinal flora.

In one of them , rats given aspartame showed a reduction in body weight but also some changes in the microbiota related to health problems, especially with a negative effect on blood glucose levels.

5. Eat foods rich in polyphenols

Polyphenols with plant compounds with many health benefits , including reduction of blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol and oxidative stress.

They are present in foods such as cocoa and dark chocolate, skin of grapes, green tea, almonds, onions, blueberries or broccoli.

Polyphenols cannot always be digested by human cells, and since they are not easily absorbed, most reach the colon , where they are digested by bacteria living there.

6. If you have a child, breastfeed for 6 months

The microbiota of a baby begins to develop at the time of birth. During its first two years of life, it is in continuous evolution, but during all that time it will be rich in Bifidobacteria, essential to process the sugar present in breast milk .

Some studies show that infants fed infant milk have a different intestinal flora , less rich in Bifidobacteria compared to babies of the same age fed with breast milk during the first six months of their lives.

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