Experts Say You Should Stop Having These 3 Things ASAP For A Healthier Gut
If you struggle with frequent digestive issues, you probably know that particular foods and drinks can be major triggers that throw your gut off track. While some people’s bodies can handle certain types of foods—such as dairy and gluten—better than others, there are a few common culprits that are never the best option for your gut. Overall, experts agree that it’s best to avoid inflammatory ingredients like refined sugar, artificial sweetener, and alcohol.
To learn more about the health effects of each of these things (especially the role they play in gut issues) we spoke to expert Kristina Ford, MS, PA-C. She gave us the rundown on why you may want to consider cutting them out if you’re looking to reset your gut. Find all of her great insight below!
1. Refined sugar
When eaten in excess, refined sugar like the kind found in many of your favorite sweet treats can lead to serious health consequences—especially when it comes to gut health. This is because, as Ford says, "Refined sugars directly impact this gut lining by damaging the protective mucous layer. This can lead to significant inflammation, and can decrease the good bacteria in our lining." Yikes! That lining is extremely important to the functions of your gut, so steering clear of sugary foods as much as possible is essential if you want to keep your digestive system as healthy as possible. Ford points out that refined sugar is especially rampant in high-fructose corny syrup, so be sure to keep an eye out for this ingredient.
2. Artificial sweeteners
Sugar isn't the only sweet ingredient that can take a toll on your gut health; unfortunately, artificial sweeteners can also be detrimental. "Not only does ingestion of artificial sweeteners decrease the body's natural ability to properly mobilize sugar from blood to muscle and fat, but it has also been found to negatively impact our gut microbiome," Ford warns. She tells us that studies have shown that consuming artificial sweeteners lead to less diverse microbiome, which can trigger digestive issues. "This was seen most prominently with the use of Sucralose and saccharin. (Splenda, Sweet N Low)," she points out. So, instead of reaching for options like these (or refined sugar) your best option is always to go with natural sweeteners, such as honey. It's just as delicious, and so much better for you!
Ford tells us it's also important to limit your alcohol intake as much as possible if you need to get your gut health back on track. She explains that alcohol "directly affects the gut flora (bacteria), by increasing the bacteria that causes inflammation and irritation, and decreasing the healthy bacteria that aid in digestion." When there's an imbalance of all that bacteria, health consequences will likely ensue; she lists leaky gut as one of those consequences. "Too much bad bacteria can lead to a leaky gut, which is a term used to describe small gaps in the intestinal wall," she explains. "These small gaps allow toxins and bacteria into our bloodstream, increasing inflammation. The increase of bad bacteria and inflammation can lead to changes with bowel movements, such as diarrhea." Yikes! Of course, we understand that cutting out alcohol completely is a lofty goal and may not be necessary for everyone—but cutting back, at the very least, can make a big difference in your overall health.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, there's no one-size-fits-all solution for a healthier gut. Figuring out which foods you need to cut out will likely take some trial and error, and of course, the best thing to do is talk to a doctor about your specific issues and needs. However, alcohol, refined sugar, and artificial sweeteners are some of the worst culprits out there, and limiting your intake of these things as much as possible definitely couldn't hurt.