What’s in your gut?
While not every gut is the same, scientists from the University of California at San Diego’s School of Medicine have been analyzing the bacterial makeup of Americans’ digestive tracks in a study called The American Gut since 2012.
So far, the scientists have analyzed more than 11,300 guts. Their goal has been to study the different types of bacteria residing in peoples’ guts and discover how this bacteria may affect someone’s diet, lifestyle or even how they fight disease.
According to the study’s website, here’s what they’ve discovered so far:
- The older the person, the more diverse the gut bacteria appeared
- Antibiotic usage reduced bacteria diversity in the gut, creating a less healthy gut environment
- The more plants a person ate, the more likely their gut had diverse bacteria and was less resistant to antibiotics
- People who had at least one alcoholic drink per week had more diverse gut bacteria than those who did not
Additionally, the study has found similar gut makeup among people who suffer from mental illness.
“The human microbiome is complex, but the more samples we get, the sooner we will be able to unravel the many ways the microbiome is associated with various health and disease states,” says researcher Rob Knight in a recent HealthDay article.
“A microbiome is a community of organisms that are a part of a specific environment,” says Dr. Marc Mesleh, a minimally invasive foregut surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “In this case, the microbiome is the bacteria found in the gut.”
Dr. Mesleh, says, “While it will be interesting to see what comes of this study, if you’re concerned about your gut health, there are already easy tips you can regularly follow to promote good digestive health.”
He recommends the following:
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat high-fiber foods
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly
- Learn how to control your stress
- Use medication or antibiotics cautiously and responsibly
- Eat moderate portions
- Stay away from sugary and processed foods
- Talk with your doctor about trying a probiotic
- Have a diverse diet including plant based and animal products
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.