The gut microbiome is a fairly common term that you may have come across frequently. The gut microbiome consists of gut microbes, that is, the healthy gut bacteria (in higher numbers) and harmful bacteria (in lower amounts) present in our gastrointestinal tracts. These good gut bacteria help in digestion, regular bowel movements, promotion of angiogenesis, synthesizing vitamins, absorption of nutrients, etc. Our gut microbiome also plays a vital role in regulating hormones, mental health, and mood through the gut-brain axis. It is not wrong to say that our gut microbiome is sensitive and thrives on various factors in our daily life. And it is also would be appropriate to say that gut health is one of the most vital parts of our health that governs various other aspects of our physical and psychological health. A healthy gut enriches your nutrition absorption levels, blood quality, immune system, digestion process, mood, muscle health, and bone health. Not only that, but it also helps your gut heal and lowers risks of irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut, increased intestinal permeability, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.
One of the various factors that affect gut health is our diet. The most effective and nutritious diet plan for gut health includes a wide selection of fermented foods, prebiotic foods, probiotic foods, leafy green vegetables, polyphenols, etc. For example, the prebiotics acts as food for good gut bacteria and help them diversify. This is because fermented foods, indigestible fibers, and prebiotics are not easily dissolved in the stomach and instead get passed onto the small intestine, where the beneficial gut bacteria feed on them. Thereby nourishing the bacteria and helping them thrive. You can also learn about some Digestive Superfoods.
Lack of such foods may lead to dysbiosis or imbalanced gut microbes. Which in turn may lead to dangerous health problems, including gut problems, digestive problems, arthritis, vision issues, gut inflammation, muscle pain, weakness, brain fog, slow mental cognition, and immune health problems. However, research on gut health has revealed that certain foods we may have perceived as gut-friendly foods are destroying our probiotic balance in the gut microbiome. In this article, we shall discuss what needs to be avoided and what you can eat instead.
As mentioned before, our good bacteria in the gut tend to be disrupted occasionally. Here is the reason why. There are several things that are normal to do and we have no idea just how bad it may affect said bacteria.
Here are some of the most common habits that easily destroy our gut flora balance.
- Lack of a diverse range of foods in our diet.
- Too much consumption of artificial sweeteners, processed foods, soft drinks, etc., acts as a food for harmful gut bacteria.
- Lack of prebiotic fiber foods in our daily diet.
- Toxic and harmful lifestyles (chain-smoking, tobacco use, drinking alcohol excessively, drugs, etc.)
- Use of regular antibiotics.
- Stress and insomnia.
- Lack of regular exercise.
All of these factors weigh in to create a malnourished state of gut health and a compromised immune system. You need to be aware of these factors if you are in the healing stages. Try to include a diversified range of foods in your diet, establish diet plan charts that include superfoods, and cut off harmful food items that lead to changes that affect our digestive health for the worse. To learn about some basic measures with which you can Improve Gut Health Naturally.
Vegetables and Fruits that affect your Gut Microbiome Negatively
Vegetables and fruits that affect your gut microbiome negatively? Surprising, and yes, you heard that right. Here are some of the most common veggies and fruits you should restrict from consuming regularly.
No. #1- Cruciferous vegetables
What do they include?
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, collard greens, and cauliflower. They are rich in fiber and comparatively low in fat.
Why are cruciferous vegetables bad for you?
There is some evidence that they may increase the risk of certain cancers, such as bowel cancer (although there is not enough evidence to say for sure).
- This is because cruciferous vegetables are rich in indoles, compounds that can be pro-inflammatory, which affect the gut microbiome negatively as well.
- In addition, crucifers contain a high amount of sulfides (sulfur-containing molecules), which may cause leaky gut and inflammation in the body. A leaky gut is when your intestinal lining becomes damaged, allowing toxins and undigested food particles into your bloodstream, which leads to further damage and inflammation throughout the body.
- These vegetables also contain glucosinolates which break down into isothiocyanates (ITCs) when digested. As per research and clinical studies, ITCs are toxic to the gut bacteria in animal models but not humans. Therefore, cruciferous vegetables are bad for your gut due to their high levels of ITCs. They can cause inflammation in the intestines, leaky gut syndrome, and increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
What can they be replaced with?
Cruciferous vegetables are certainly healthy; however, they should be avoided in order to heal your gut.
- Alternatives include spinach, swiss chard, zucchini, lettuce, carrots, ginger, celery, etc.
- Fermented cabbage, called sauerkraut, is also healthful in reviving gut flora.
No. #2- Potatoes
Why are potatoes bad for you?
Potatoes are starchy vegetables high in carbohydrates, which can cause digestive problems for some people. It is important to note that potatoes do not contain gluten, but it does contain the lectin called “soluble fiber.” Soluble fiber binds with water and makes stool soft and bulky, making it difficult for your body to pass through the intestines. In addition, to this effect on digestion, soluble fiber also increases cholesterol levels in the bloodstream by binding with bile acids (which are produced naturally in our bodies). This results in an increase of LDL or harmful cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart diseases over time.
What can they be replaced with?
There are several good superfood substitutes that you can eat instead of this starchy vegetable. Such includes celery roots, fermented foods like tempeh and miso, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, food rich in polyphenols, etc.
No. #3- Tomatoes
Why are tomatoes bad for you?
Tomato has now been popularly recognized as a variety of fruit. And one of its components is fructose, which is not suitable for your gut because it can feed harmful bad bacteria that cause the leaky gut syndrome. This causes inflammation, cancer, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and diabetes. The harmful bacteria also produce toxins that damage the liver and other organs of the body. In addition, tomatoes are also acidic, and the acidity can be a problem for your gut. Aside from these two issues, tomatoes may even cause irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, acid reflux, nausea, and bloating.
Eating tomatoes in moderation is the best way to get rid of such issues. Of course, if you have a sensitive digestive system, it’s better not to eat tomatoes. But if you don’t have any problems with your stomach, then eating them moderately is fine as long as you don’t overdo it.
What can they be replaced with?
Fruits with acidic qualities should be avoided if you suffer from gastrointestinal disorders. However, adding berries may satisfy your fruit cravings as they are delicious and nutritional powerhouses. Try to eat superfoods like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.
Foods that harm gut health can cause inflammation in your GI tract and lead to immune and digestive problems. Some of the worst foods on the list include:
- Starchy vegetables such as potato skin, sweet potatoes, and corn (maize) –
Potato skins contain glycoalkaloids that aggravate gastrointestinal inflammation and also lead to leaky gut.
Sweet potatoes contain mannitol that can trigger diarrhea, bloating, constipation, gas, etc. So, despite it being one of the healthiest foods for you, it certainly has some severe side effects, including vitamin A toxicity in the blood, kidney failure, heart problems, blood sugar problems, gallbladder stones, etc.
Corns contain a type of gluten called corn gluten or zein that may lead to severe health disorders for those with a gluten allergy, sensitive gut health, IBS, colitis, Crohn’s, and leaky gut syndrome. And since it is also high in cellulose content, it may cause gastrointestinal disorders.
- Fried foods, processed foods, and greasy foodstuffs –
Heartburn, digestion problems, and acid reflux are consistent with fried foods and processed foods. Try to avoid regular consumption of fried foods to ensure better health as eating fried foods and processed foods may lead to an increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular health problems. Processed foods lack diversity which also makes them nutritionally lacking
- Fruits like apples, pears, grapes, and citrus fruits –
Fruits like them contain natural sugars that can feed the bad bacteria in your gut. Fructose is a type of sugar that is naturally found in fruits that feeds these bacteria. This is why you should limit your intake of fructose to less than 25 grams per day if you have an IBS-D diagnosis.
Additionally, try to avoid acidic or citrus fruits if you have gut problems, as they may cause acid reflux.
- Onions and Garlic –
Onions and garlic contain sulfur compounds which can damage your intestinal walls and increase inflammation in your body. It also increases blood pressure levels as well as cholesterol levels in your body.
- Artichokes –
Artichokes contain a type of lectin called cynarin which may cause inflammation in the gut. This can lead to a leaky gut, disrupted gut microbiota, and other digestive issues. Artichokes are also high in fiber, so it is best to avoid them if you have inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or SIBO.
- Asparagus –
Asparagus contains an enzyme called di-acetyllactosamine (DAA), which causes tear and damage to the lining of the intestine and promotes bacterial overgrowth. Research shows that DAA-containing foods such as asparagus promote intestinal permeability.
- Cucumbers (including pickles) –
They can cause bloating and flatulence if eaten raw or too much at one time. Cucumbers should be consumed in moderation as they have high water content and can lead to dehydration when overconsumed.
- Processed drinks, artificial sweeteners, sugary soft drinks, coffee, and alcoholic beverages –
Too many alcoholic beverages and drinks with artificial sweeteners like sugar-sweetened soft drinks will disrupt your gut lining, liver, and other digestive organs. As a result, they may lead to cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea, acid reflux, heartburn, etc. If you want healthful drinks that heal you from the inside out, try kombucha, herbal tea, drinkable probiotic yogurts or kefir, prebiotic smoothies, etc.
- Red meat –
Higher red meat intake leads to cardiovascular disease, stomach pain, vaginal or rectal itching, skin rashes, etc. Red meat is one of the bad gut foods that disrupt the beneficial bacteria and clog arteries, leading to heart attacks. It is best advised to remove red meat from your daily diet.
Does cooking vegetables help gut health or not?
Yes, cooking some vegetables makes them easier to digest. It does not stress your digestive tract much if the vegetables are boiled or softened by cooking. However, it may not be the same for all types of vegetables. Cooking can change the structure of some foods. For example, cooking carrots makes them more digestible because they become softer and easier to chew (although this doesn’t apply to all sorts of vegetables). In addition, raw vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) contain high levels of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid can damage the lining of the digestive tract. It is therefore recommended to cook these vegetables before eating them.
Cooking vegetables help break down cellulose and increase the fiber quantity they contain. There are many ways to cook vegetables, but many usually prefer steaming them over boiling them. This is because steaming vegetables preserve their nutritional value while killing off harmful organisms. In addition, certain nutrients like vitamin C in broccoli or vitamin E in spinach are lost during cooking. Therefore, steaming may be the best idea for these types of veggies.
However, do not overcook your vegetables and avoid canned vegetables as they do not offer any valuable human nutrition to improve gut health. Overcooking vegetables makes them taste bland and mushy. When you cook vegetables, you want to ensure they retain their color and flavor. In addition, overcooked vegetables lose much of their vitamins and minerals and become tough and fibrous.
Conclusion: Gut Microbiota Health if these Vegetables are Avoided
The health of our gut microbiota modulates our entire health. And when we pay particular attention to our diet and exercise, cut out processed foods, artificial sweeteners, saturated and trans fats, sugary soft drinks, red meat, etc., our gut health flourishes. The results of a healthy gut are reflected through a regular sleep pattern, lack of fogginess, alertness, high pain threshold, reduced recovery time in between activities, active energy throughout the day, healthy weight loss, lack of stress, glowing skin, and low hair fall, etc.
Here are the results that you can get from following such an eating regimen.
- You get Better Digestive Tolerance.
Your stomach sensitivity reduces, and you get better at handling food intolerance. As your gut health heals through your healthy diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics, your digestion improves by length. For a healthy dose of Prebiotics and Probiotics, you may also add a Gut-Boosting Supplement to your daily routine, find out the Top 10 Most Trending Gut Health Supplements.
- You get more Sleep and Rest.
You start to get bountiful sleep and rest that improves your mental health, mood, and performance throughout the day.
- Less Pain and Less Recovery Period in between Exercises.
A healthy gut helps your muscle repair faster and absorb nutrients fully. This is why, as you start eating healthier, you will notice progress in your workouts.
- You may Lose Healthy Weight.
The bacteria in your gut produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that help regulate hunger hormones and keep you full. When your gut is inflamed and unhealthy, these short-chain fatty acid levels drop, causing cravings and overeating. When your gut environment heals and becomes balanced, your body produces more SCFAs, keeping you fuller longer. This is why many weight loss promotions start with a healthy diet.
- Better Immune Function.
A healthy balance in the diverse microbiome indicates a healthy immune system as a large number of beneficial bacteria help our immune health. This is done by regulating immune homeostasis, which helps stabilize our body internally.
- Prevents Skin and Scalp from Aging.
A healthy gut helps promote more collagen production, preventing your skin and scalp from aging. Relaxing doses of sleep, lack of stress, and better nutrition absorption promote rejuvenated and youthful skin and hair complexion.
Pair your healthy diet with daily exercise routines, here are some Gut Health Exercises. In addition to diet and workout, prebiotics, and probiotic supplements too help achieve the best results.
Tim Koping (Medical M.Sc Physiology, Founder of Original Eating, and a Professor at a Leading Health Institute in the US): I am a medical M.Sc physiology graduate and the founder of Original Eating, an online resource that provides information and advice about healthy eating. I have a strong interest in health and nutrition, and I am passionate about helping people to eat well and live healthily. I have over 15 years of experience working in the health and nutrition industry, and I am dedicated to providing accurate, reliable information that can help people to make healthy choices for themselves. My work with Original Eating has been featured in publications such as Men’s Health and more, and I am frequently consulted by journalists for expert commentary on dietary issues. However, in my spare time, I also enjoy reading, hiking, and playing the guitar.