Over 66 percent of your immunity against illnesses and disease doesn’t live in your blood. It’s not located in your heart or your liver either. Researchers say up to two-thirds of our immunity comes from our gut.
Hardly a day goes by when we don’t learn something new about how vital the good bacteria in our bellies, called our gut biome, is to our overall health. Emerging research has linked the health and well-being of our guts to everything from immunities to chronic diseases.
In fact, the balance of your good bacteria is so important scientists and researchers have dubbed the gut “the second brain.”
STOP accidentally killing your good gut bugs
There are more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your entire body. And we have to nurture them, and keep them in balance, in order to be our healthiest.
But keeping your good gut bugs balanced takes more than just eating right and taking probiotics. Because it turns out you may be accidentally destroying your good gut bugs.
If you’re making any of the following five mistakes, you’re messing with your gut health, even if you don’t know it.
1. Washing with antibacterial soap:
Antibacterial soap may seem like a good idea. After all, when you want to get squeaky clean attacking stinky bacteria sounds like it makes sense.
But it doesn’t work that way, according to studies out of the University of Chicago, Stanford, and Cornell. Researchers there have found that triclosan, a chemical commonly used in antibacterial soaps, doesn’t just stay on your hands and body.
Your body absorbs the creepy chemical, and once inside it can do some major damage. Triclosan can upset the delicate balance in your gut, killing off good gut bugs.
And the problems don’t end there. Scientists say the chemical also contributes to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Triclosan kills off competition while allowing certain dangerous bugs to thrive.
The good news is the US government finally banned triclosan, along with some other questionable antibacterial chemicals, in 2016. But since the chemical was so widely used—finding its way into bath soap, shampoo, laundry soap, toothpastes, hand gels, cutting boards, mattress pads and more—it’s possible you’re still using products with triclosan in them.
Experts say that washing with antibacterial products isn’t any more effective than simple old soap and water anyway. So go ahead and show your good gut bugs some love by ditching the antibacterial soap.
2. Using artificial sweeteners:
Artificial sweeteners have no place in a healthy diet. We’ve been warning you about them for years. But their link to obesity and diabetes aren’t their only problems.
Researchers say they’re also doing a number on our good gut bugs. In fact, the damage they do to gut flora is likely behind their link to obesity.
In animal testing out of Israel, researchers found that artificial sweeteners affected gut bacteria in two significant ways. First an increase in a bacteria linked to obesity was seen. And at the same time, there was a drop in the good gut bugs linked to healthy weight.
Artificial sweeteners are supposed to help you control your weight. But their attack on good gut bugs can cause you to gain instead. Do your gut flora, and your scale, a favor and drop the fake sugars.
3. Burning the candle at both ends:
Scientists call it “circadian rhythm disruption.” But to the rest of us it’s simply not getting enough sleep. And when it happens, you’re putting your good gut bugs in jeopardy.
Because no matter what you call it the results are the same, a shift in the balance of bacteria that keep you healthy. And if you’re not eating a perfect diet (and who is?), that damage can be even worse.
Stop shortchanging yourself when it comes to shuteye. Commit to seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night. And if you’re having trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep, check out these 8 food secrets to help you sleep like a baby TONIGHT.
4. Ignoring stress:
If you try to swallow your stress, you’re not alone. Many folks do. But ignoring stress can backfire, harming your health. And now researchers say we can add “gut health” to the long list of ways it makes, and keeps, us sick.
According to a study published in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, stress can throw your gut bacteria out of balance. Over time that imbalance can contribute to other problems including GERD and irritable bowel disease.
To help your good gut bugs get the upper hand stop ignoring your stress, and do something about it instead. Need help destressing? Try our 15 instant happiness hacks you’ll love!
5. Breathing bad air:
Air pollution isn’t just bad for your lungs. It’s bad for your good gut bugs, too.
Canadian researchers have linked air pollution to inflammation and gut permeability. That can translate to a higher risk for illnesses and diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. And brand new research finds that air purifiers can significantly reduce the dangerous particles in the air we’re breathing.
Everyone makes mistakes, but if you want to support your good gut bugs, it’s time to stop making these five.