Gut Flora, Diet, and Health

More than 100 trillion bacteria live in the human gut. In fact, throughout the body, microbes outnumber human cells by about 10-to-1. While the thought of playing host to so many microbes can be unsettling, these “gut bugs,” most of which live in the colon, have very important jobs. Friendly bacteria can help protect the body from disease-causing bacteria. They can break down fiber and other undigested carbohydrates to produce substances that provide us with energy. They can even make vitamin K and some B vitamins.

Age, genes, and diet may all affect gut flora. However, research suggests diet may be key to determining what sorts of bacteria make their home in the intestines. This makes sense, since different types of bacteria thrive on different types of food. Long-term intake appears to have the greatest influence, but changes in gut bacteria can be seen just 24 hours after a diet shift. While the health effects of having gut bugs associated with different diets still need further study, new research suggests that food could interact with flora in ways that just might alter disease risk.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


p style=”text-align:center;”>Tip of the Day

Strength training? Skip protein powders and bars. You get enough protein from healthy foods. It’s true that strength-training athletes, such as body builders, might benefit from more protein than the average person but the extra amount of protein can come from healthy foods. Pricey protein bars and powders are just another form of protein. They are no better than protein from foods when it comes to building muscle. Choose protein-rich foods such as lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and nut butters, legumes and low fat milk and alternatives.


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