In their quest to be healthy, some people might inadvertently be giving up foods that are actually beneficial for their health. If you’ve banned coffee or tea from your diet because of their caffeine content, or you’ve given wine the boot because it contains alcohol, you might want to rethink your decision, after hearing about a new Dutch study that was published in the journal Science.
The study is part of the LifeLines program, which was put in place to keep track of the health of 165,000 people who live in the northern Netherlands. In order to reach their conclusions, the researchers assessed the questionnaires of 1,100 participants regarding their diets, medications and overall health, and also analyzed gut bacteria taken from frozen stool samples.
The researchers found that drinking a glass of wine or a cup of tea or coffee can help people maintain their levels of “good” bacteria. Moreover, the gut bacteria of those who eat yogurt regularly displayed a greater diversity. Eating high-calorie diets, on the other hand, can adversely affect this diversity.
People should aim for a good diversity of gut bacteria
Having a great diversity of gut bacteria is beneficial to human health. The researchers discovered 60 dietary factors that determine this diversity, and coffee, tea and wine all played a role. Previous studies have shown that antacids and antibiotics decrease this diversity.
University of Groningen human genetics professor Dr. Cisca Wijmenga said, “Disease often occurs as the result of many factors. Most of these factors, like your genes or your age, are not things you can change. But you can change the diversity of your microbiome through adapting your diet or medication. When we understand how this works, it will open up new possibilities.”
Good bacteria in the gut helps your body digest food while keeping pathogens such as yeast in check. In addition, good bacteria can control the functioning of your organs, according to a study published in mBio.
Maintaining good bacteria key to fighting inflammation
Having a proper balance of good bacteria has anti-inflammatory effects, according to a University of California study. Researchers found that the anti-inflammatory ability of certain gut bacteria varieties can slow down or even stop the development of some types of cancer.
That study’s senior author, Robert Schiestl, told Science Daily: “Ultimately, doctors might be able to reduce a person’s risk for cancer by analyzing the levels and types of intestinal bacteria in the body, and then prescribing probiotics to replace or bolster the amount of bacteria with anti-inflammatory properties.”
Inflammation is also behind a number of other diseases besides cancer, including heart disease, lupus, neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis and premature aging.
The answer is as simple as changing your diet
If you want to add some beneficial bacteria to your diet, there are quite a few foods that boast probiotic properties. Organic yogurt and kefir are great starting points, but be sure to avoid the processed or sugary varieties. In addition, fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, kombucha tea and kimchi are also great sources. You can also boost the amount of good bacteria in your gut with microalgae like chlorella, which can help your body eliminate toxic elements and contains many useful phytonutrients, and organic spirulina, which is rich in protein and is one of the most nutritionally complete foods you can find.
These findings only serve as further proof of the body’s amazing ability to heal itself and prevent disease. Natural medicine has been preaching this for years, and scientific studies are proving it time and time again: Diet is one of the biggest factors in staying healthy and preventing disease.