Bacteria in your gut can be both a good and bad thing. While there are plenty of bad bacterias for your health that can cause serious complications, infections, and other health problems, not all microbes are bad. New research reported in Science Magazine, shows how the human body is able to distinguish gut bacteria that is helpful from those that can be deadly.

Read on to learn about the process as well as how you can actually improve your gut bacteria by making a few simple dietary changes.

The Findings

Observations from the study reported in the Science Magazine study show that in mice, microbes use a hook-like appendage to prevent the immune system from attacking them. These appendages are believed to send signals to your body that they are the good guys and it shouldn’t fight them off. The human gut acts as the gateway to your intestines and immune system. This makes for easy entry for harmful microbes to cause infection. Your intestine then helps act as the gatekeeper eager to attack harmful bacteria. While it’s common knowledge that T cells, for example, are able to recognize the E. coli pathogen and attack it, researches are just learning more about why they let the trillions of other microbes pass their gates that help our digestion and keep us healthy.

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

To learn more, immunologists examined filamentous bacteria found in the intestines of humans, fish, and mice. The findings show a hook-like appendage that attaches itself to the cells on the walls of the gut. 3D images show these holdfasts with bubbles coming from the sides of the hooks and bubbling off the walls of the intestines. Even though T cells were shown to be armed and ready, they didn’t attack these bacteria.

While there is still more research to be done in terms of how other gut microbes communicate with T cells, this was a big step in microbiota research and may lead to even more discoveries about our immune system, digestive health and the many forms of gut bacteria.

How Food Can Help Your Gut Bacteria

The human body has over 40 trillion bacteria inside of it. Most of these bacteria are found in your intestines. The food you are eating can have a big impact on the types of bacteria that are living inside your body. It’s considered healthy to have a wide range and diverse amount of microbiota. The more you have and the wider your range, the higher your chances are of reaping the health benefits. The more diverse your diet, the better. While Americans lack in diet diversity, other parts of the world have diets that are much richer in a variety of plant sources. The more variety in your diet, the better when it comes to gut health.

ponce_photography / Pixabay

Another important thing to remember is that vegetables and fruit are the best sources of healthy microbiota nutrients. Fiber is one of the keys here. Although it isn’t digested in your body, certain bacteria can digest it and it stimulates growth. Beans, legumes, artichokes, raspberries, broccoli, peas, lentils, and whole grains are all great sources of fiber. It’s also believed that fruits and vegetables rich in fiber can prevent bacteria that cause disease.

Fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha contain lactobacilli which are very helpful bacteria for your health. The more yogurt you eat, the more you may be fighting off inflammation and chronic diseases because you’ll have less Enterobacteriaceae, which is typically responsible for causing these. In children and babies who eat more yogurt, they are often seen to be less afflicted by the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

On that note, when it comes to babies, breastmilk is shown to help infants develop healthy microbiota. The first two years of a child’s life is especially crucial in the development of their gut.

Keep your diet diverse, rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and foods like yogurt to help keep good bacteria in your gut for many years to come.