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How Your Diet and Lifestyle Affects Your Gut Microbiome and Overall Health

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Many aspects of your health will be impacted by what you eat and how you live your life in general. The microbiome that exists within your gut is especially sensitive to diet and lifestyle, although if you are unaware of this, you may not realise just how much of a benefit you can see from making relatively minor changes.

Here is a look at the relationship between these elements and what you need to be aware of in order to maintain a healthy balance in terms of the bacteria in your body.

Common gut bacteria and the roles they play

There are a number of bacterial strains which are essential to a healthy gut and understanding them is the first step to appreciating what affects your lifestyle can have on this potentially fragile ecosystem.

For example, bifidobacteria are crucial to digestion, allowing you to process the foods you consume and extract as much nutritional value from them as possible. They also assist in the fight against any harmful bacteria which might end up in your gut, preventing them from getting a foothold and disrupting the microbiome.

Another common type, making up 3.5 per cent of all bacteria in your gut, is akkermansia muciniphila. This deals with the lining of the gut itself and acts to prevent inflammation, amongst other things. If you do not have enough of this bacteria present, taking an akkermansia muciniphila supplement will be necessary, as this bacteria also plays a part in preventing obesity and limiting the likelihood of becoming diabetic.

There are many more bacteria present in your gut microbiome, but the basic idea is that you need this controlled cocktail of living organisms to stay healthy.

External influences that impact gut bacteria

There are several factors which can alter, reshape or otherwise determine the makeup of your gut microbiome, and again it is sensible to have an awareness of this so that you know what you can control and whether you can make positive changes to see health benefits.

First and foremost, antibiotics which may be prescribed by a physician to treat a variety of bacterial infections usually target all bacteria indiscriminately. This is why efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics are ongoing, since the damage done by overuse can take years to rectify.

In terms of diet, a lack of fiber will be problematic for your gut bacteria, since the aforementioned bifidobacteria need fibrous foodstuffs to thrive, and without them their numbers might plummet, leaving you vulnerable to a variety of potential gut-related health problems. Avoid this by eating plenty of plant-based meals, as the fiber derived from natural produce will be a blessing for your microbiome.

At the other end of the spectrum, a diet which includes excessive amounts of fat can actually promote the growth of the wrong sorts of bacteria in your gut, while lessening the presence of healthy bacteria, also leading to inflammation issues and other risks.

When it comes to lifestyle impact, studies have shown that those who not only eat more healthily but also have a more active lifestyle, with regular stints of exercise scheduled into their average week, will also play host to a more balanced gut microbiome.

You do not need to start running marathons or spending every waking hour at the gym; simply exercising aerobically on a regular basis will bring balance to your bacterial ecosystem.


As with most issues relating to health, living your life in a way that avoids excess and steers clear of other disruptive things like stress can ultimately lead to better gut bacteria and the associated benefits this brings.

If you are having any issues in this area, consult a healthcare professional and be mindful of the suggestions they make.

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.