How to Avoid Gut Toxins
The vast mass of bacteria that lines our intestines is known as our microbiome, and it does much more than help us digest food. We now know that intestinal microbes help manufacture nutrients like vitamin K and a range of B vitamins, regulate our immune system and can even aid weight loss.
In fact, your gut bacteria might determine how many calories you burn, according to a 2015 study from the University of Iowa. Researchers gave mice an antipsychotic drug and found that it altered their gut bacteria and led to weight gain, ‘the equivalent of eating one additional cheeseburger every single day’ (Bahr et al.,2015) .
The effects of antibiotics on our gut flora are also well documented. As the drugs kill off the bad bacteria, they also annihilate the good bacteria and it can be very difficult for the microbiome to bounce back. A 2015 study published in the journal Nature found that the effects of antibiotics were still evident four months after being taken, and that early life use might affect long-term health .
If you want to reduce your exposure to antibiotics its important to choose organic meat and dairy. Farmers routinely add the drugs to animal feed, contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistance disease in humans.
A more surprising gut-disrupter is the contraceptive pill. A 2012 study from Harvard, looking at 230,000 women found that the pill may triple the risk of Crohn’s disease in those with family history of the condition . The lead author Dr. Hamed Khalili, believes that excess amounts of oestrogen can affect the healthy bacteria in our gut.
What about the ‘morning after pill’? Although it was not included in the study, Khalili suggests that the drug may carry a similar risk since it contains even stronger doses of hormones than those found in the pill.
The good news? You can nourish your inner-eco system with food. Try eating prebiotics (bananas, leeks, onions) as well as probiotics (kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut) as well as plenty of leafy greens, which have been shown to support healthy gut flora. Suspect you might have IBS? Click here to read more .