Gut health is vital to one’s overall well-being but the gut is one of the most abused parts of the body. You need to give your gut a chance to rejuvenate its microbial balance by giving it probiotic-rich foods and ensuring that you alternate food in your diet. Your gut also needs you to exercise, get enough sleep and most importantly, avoid foods that hut your gut lining and gut microbes. Most of the foods we enjoy do a disservice to our gut health though and it is pretty easy to correct because they are the same unhealthy foods nutritionists warn about.
Artificial sweeteners are now found in many foods that claim to have no sugar. Artificial sweeteners are not any safer than sugar though because they still trigger the excessive release of insulin that causes more sugar to be converted to fat. A 2021 study also found that artificial sweeteners which go through the git without being digested cause bacterial imbalance in the gut and increase the risk of bacterial and yeast infections. The sweeteners were also discovered to cause glucose intolerance in the gut which results in stomach upsets, diarrhoea and other gut diseases.
Low-calorie gums and candies are trendy but not as safe as you might think. In place of sugar, these sweets are sweetened with sorbitol, a polyalcohol sugar which has one-third fewer calories than sugar. German scientists discovered that the consumption of too much sorbitol leads to malabsorption and gut problems including stomach upsets and diarrhoea. The sugar may also have the same effect on the microbial balance in your stomach which hurts digestion further and causes thinning of your stomach lining.
Sugary Soft Drinks
It is hard to skip a can of soda, even diet ones and while some may be regulated to reduce the sugar quantity, they haven’t been made any healthier. A 2019 study published in the JAMA Medical Journal concluded that drinking a lot of sugary soft drinks was directly related to deaths caused by digestive tract diseases. The story is not any better where artificial sweeteners are concerned as we have confirmed above that they are just as bad for your gut.
Heavily Processed Foods
Heavily processed foods are not just stripped of most of their nutritional value, they are also laced with compounds that spell disaster for your gut. The additives used in bacon, ham, cake, sausages and other heavily processed foods interfere with the microbiome in your gut increasing your risk of bacterial and yeast infection. Some processed foods have additives similar to antibiotics which strip your gut of certain probiotics altogether.
Red meat is a great source of Vitamin B12, protein and other healthy vitamins but it also contains a compound called carnitine which causes a problem when it interacts with gut bacteria. Carnitine reacts with probiotics to form Trimethylamine N-Oxide which is a poisonous chemical associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart disease and early death. It is even worse when the meat is fried because the saturated fats also cause further imbalances in your microbiome.
Foods Containing Antibiotics
It is hard to avoid farm products that are free from antibiotics because they are used widely across different levels of farming. The worst affected are chicken, beef, mutton and other meats from animals that are mass-produced. When used for medication, antibiotics are good at killing harmful bacteria but they also kill the good bacteria in your gut. When meat and other farm produce has a high content of antibiotics or when eaten regularly over a period of time, it can result in severe degradation of your gut probiotics and an increased risk of digestive diseases.
Fried food is tasty especially when cooked to precision with just the right level of heat and seasoning. One thing you don’t know is that once fats are heated, their structure changes and that increases the level of trans fats and saturated fats in fried foods. These fats are not just hard for the gut to digest, they also stay in the gut for too long and don’t feed probiotics leading to their degradation. A heavy lining of fat on your stomach lining also causes the stomach walls to release extra acid to break it down but it actually corrodes your gut walls rather than break down trans fats.
Excessive consumption of alcohol isn’t just bad for your liver, it also causes digestive tract diseases and malabsorption. A 2012 study concluded that alcoholism results in dysbiosis after a study on 41 alcoholics compared to people that only drank a moderate amount to no alcohol at all. Red wine was discovered to actually improve the microbiome but gin did the worst damage to it.
Excessively Caffeinated Foods
Caffeine is a stimulant that is acidic in nature and also has laxative properties. Being one of the most consumed drugs on earth, it is also one of the most abused and it is now used in many soft drinks including soda and energy drinks. When used in excess, the acidity corrodes the stomach lining and interferes with the balance in the gut. The laxative effect can also cause diarrhoea and cramping.
And we end this post with something most people think is healthy, but in larger quantities, it really isn’t. The main problem is animal protein contains saturated fats and higher levels of cholesterol than other sources of protein. With lots of unhealthy saturated fats as well as some cancer-causing compounds!
Do you know any other foods that are bad for our guts? Do let us know in the comments below.