If your gut bacteria is less than at its best, you’re probably looking to restore the good bacteria. If you’re not, then you really should be. Multiple things can affect your gut bacteria, including being ill and doing a round of antibiotics. If you have suffered from either of these, then it’s likely your gut bacteria have taken a real hit.
Like many questions in life, it isn’t an easy answer. It depends on how affected your gut was and its state. Studies suggest that it can take about six months to recover from antibiotic damage. Nevertheless, if your gut bacteria have been impacted by a poor diet, lack of sleep or excess alcohol, it may take less time or take longer to repair.
Although we can’t give you a definitive answer, there are steps you can take to give your gut the best chance of restoring the good bacteria as quickly as possible.
Your gut has its own circadian rhythm, so having a consistent sleep pattern is essential. Having an irregular sleep pattern will mean our microbiota become confused and disrupted. Getting a good night’s sleep of at least 7 hours and keeping the timings regular is your best bet.
Switching to a Mediterranean diet, or one rich in fruits, vegetables and grains with less dairy, meat and processed foods will support the good bacteria. The typical western diet tends to be low in fibre and high in sugar, and fat and processed foods can decrease the good bacteria in our gut.
Alcohol can harm our gut health by decreasing the good bacteria in our gut. Although cutting out alcohol entirely is excellent, we know this is unrealistic for most. If you are drinking, try to limit your intake to small amounts. If you like red wine, it could be worth switching to it as it contains polyphenols linked to several health benefits.
Antibacterial products such as mouthwash can create microbes that are antibacterial-resistant. This means they may hurt the bacteria in your mouth and affect how you absorb nutrients.
There are multiple reasons to stop smoking if you’re a smoker, including your gut health. The research found that quitting smoking can improve the microbial diversity in your gut. Not to mention all the extra health benefits.
Although there isn’t much information surrounding it, one study found that exercise can increase the microbes in your gut. So whether you hit the gym, go for a run or play a sport doing so regularly each week should help.
Try yoga, meditating, reading a book, or whatever you find helps you relax. Excessive stress increases the harmful bacteria in your gut and reduces the good stuff. So finding some time to relax should help decrease stress levels in the body.
Our gut microbiome is not something that can be fixed overnight. It’s better to think of it as something to work on continually. We’ll all have unhealthy days, but trying to follow a healthy lifestyle can add up over time.