Over the years, the human microbiome has emerged as a fascinating concept because it is closely associated with gut health. Essentially, it refers to the combination of good and bad bacteria that reside within your gut. These need to be in optimal balance to be in good health. The fact that these bacteria exist in large numbers and diverse species makes people even more curious about them. No wonder, countless research studies have been conducted till date for understanding the microbiome and its diversity. Despite proven and research-backed facts about them, there are still many myths and misconceptions that prevail about these bacteria and gut health. Let us demystify them for you.
Myth #1: All bacteria is bad for health
The common belief about bacteria is that they always cause diseases and are bad for health. But a healthy microbiome is a combination of good and bad ones, with the former being in a significantly larger proportion. The friendly bacteria support your gut and overall health in more than one way. They break down the food, regulate the metabolism and even offer protection against harmful infections. In this way, they boost your immunity and ensure good health. Therefore, you have no reason to believe that bacteria are always bad.
Myth #2: Skinny means healthy
If you think that a skinny person is always healthy, you have your facts wrong. Someone with high BMI may, in fact, be healthier as compared to another person who has a low BMI. Here again, the microbiome has a key role to play because a diverse one is associated with good health, irrespective of the fact whether you are skinny or not. An unbalanced microbiome is characterized by low-grade inflammation, which can result in diseases such as metabolic dysfunction, diabetes, bowel and cardiovascular disease. The chances of getting these diseases are as many for skinny people if they lack in gut health.
Myth #3: Healthy eating is just about controlling sugar and fat intake
Another misconception that you should stop believing is that healthy eating is just about keeping track of the sugar and fat you consume. It is also meant to maintain an optimal balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut. As this article from NetConnected.co.uk explains, this balance is critical for good health. Foods loaded with unhealthy fats and sugars are hard to break down and offer minimal nutrition for the good bacteria in the microbiome. Therefore, you should ideally focus on eating healthy to support the billions of friendly ones in there.
Myth #4: Probiotics is all that you need for good gut health
Undoubtedly, probiotics can be very helpful for your microbiome but there is much more that you need to maintain a healthy one. Probiotics need to be supported by a hefty intake of dietary fiber for giving the desired benefits. Therefore, instead of relying only on the magic of probiotics, you need to eat healthy in the old-fashioned way. Ensure that your everyday diet is loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy nuts and seeds as well. Ditch processed foods and concentrate on whole grains instead.
Myth #5: Fasting is good for gut health
While a lot is being said about the benefits of intermittent fasting, it may not be as good for your microbiome as it appears to be. Eating regularly is considered vital for keeping your gut in great shape because it keeps the digestive organs stimulated and active. Conversely, fasting means that your gut performs below optimal levels and food keeps sitting within for longer, which can result in gas and bloating. Also, not eating for long stretches keeps the good bacteria deprived of the nutrients they need.
Myth #6: Eating right is enough to ensure a healthy microbiome
Eating healthy and diverse foods does strengthen your gut but you need to pay attention to several other things as well. Avoiding unprecedented use of antibiotics, alcohol and cigarette is important because these substances can be toxic for the healthy bacteria that reside inside your digestive tract. Surprisingly, exercise also has a positive impact on gut health while a sedentary routine can be detrimental for it. Also, good sleep and a stress-free lifestyle can do wonders for your gut microbiome.
Now that all the major microbiome myths have been debunked for you, it will be easier to do the right thing for keeping it in optimal health. After all, this is something that deserves due attention because you cannot afford to compromise with the functioning of your digestive system at any cost.