We’ve been talking quite a bit here on the ‘Freshly Blended’ Blog about digestive health and the gut.
What damages your gut, what you can do to protect your gut, even what you can do to repair your gut are all things we have discussed in the past. However, one point that we have yet to discuss is what optimal gut health looks like.
Avoiding things that are harmful to your gut and digestive tract are important to know, but having a set goal in mind is what makes any target easier to attain.
Today we will be discussing what the optimal gut looks like, and a few of the major benefits that come with what is referred to as a healthy gut.
The optimal gut bacteria balance
Our bodies were designed and have adapted over time to a very specific diet.
Think back to what our ancestors long ago would have eaten and how often they would have eaten those things. There were hunters, and then there were gatherers. Obviously, the more safe job to have out of those two would be the gatherer, as it was less often you would have to come in contact with a dangerous animal just for the sake of bringing back dinner.
The average diet way-back-when was mostly foliage --things that grew up out of the ground.
Less meat (again, hunting and meat gathering was much harder when the only tools available were sharpened sticks and throwable rocks), more greens (ample fruits and vegetables and sprouts back then). This diet is what brought about what we would refer to as “optimal gut health”.
A majority of what throws our gut bacteria off balance is the high amount of processed foods out there. Junk foods, altered meats, and chemically treated produce all are terrible for our gut flora.
The diets of our ancestors? Pretty sure that was all chemical and synthetic additive free.
However, there was also a very small menu available back then. There were no processed...anything. This makes the diet back in those days that much harder to achieve today. They also didn't have to go to work for most of the day, as their entire days were filled with looking and foraging for food wherever they could find it.
That does not mean however that it is not possible to have a healthy gut balance, today.
What does this balance look like?
The optimal gut balance has a ratio of 80/20.
That’s 80% good bacteria and 20% bad, both working together inside of your gut to provide your body the proper environment in which to break down food and disperse the nutrients through to the rest of your body.
There always will be an amount of “bad” bacteria in your body. It will always find a way to make its presence known as it travels in and around your system. Unclean food, harmful free radicals that you breathe in, even high levels of stress can all breed bad bacteria. Some cases even show that it is possible to convert good bacteria into bad by having it linger and mingle too long with the bad.
The way to handle bad bacteria is not to try and expunge it all and try to wipe it all out (like what happens when we take antibiotics for too long). Instead, we should try to keep it in check. Keeping the bad bacteria under the 20% line is what I would refer to as optimal, hence making the vast majority of your gut bacteria good (the remaining 80%).
What happens when my gut is not even close to 80/20?
When your gut bacteria is severely out of whack, you know it.
Things like low energy, constant fatigue, unwanted weight gain, foggy thinking and junk food cravings are all very common occurrences that come from having an unbalanced microflora. When the bad bacteria outnumber the good in your gut, it can wreak havoc throughout the rest of your system, and even go so far as to prevent you from being able to sleep at night.
How do I get my gut bacteria back to the 80/20 ratio?
How you can get your gut to straighten back out to an optimal balance (~80% good and ~20% bad) is by thinking back to what our ancestors were eating.
Cutting out as much processed foods as possible and opting for more natural greens like fruits and vegetables and sprouts (nuts, beans, rice…) are recommended. Reducing how much meat you eat is also advised, as so much of the meat produced today is injected with some additive or hormone in some way.
For those who’s gut health is really off the rails, it may not be uncommon for your doctor to advise you to boost your probiotic intake. Check with your primary physician if taking a supplement is something that can help you and your gut health get back on track.
By making these changes, which are not as drastic as you may think, you can push your gut health back onto the right track.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here. This article is for general information only.