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Balance Your Good & Bad Gut Bacteria By Eating More Of This

Studying the link between antioxidants and gut health.

While a lot of research has been done on how carbohydrates, fibers, and proteins impact the gut microbiome, this review focused exclusively on antioxidants–which are comparatively understudied in the gut space.

For this review, researchers based primarily in Asia and the U.K. combed through existing research to make a more definitive statement about the impact of antioxidants on the gut microbiome.

Antioxidants, the authors write, essentially “scavenge free radicals” in the body. If we have too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants, it leads to oxidative stress–a condition that is detrimental for our skin, cognition, and–you guessed it–our gut. “Many studies report that prolonged exposure to reactive oxygen species (ROS) can result in microbial dysbiosis2,” the study reads, and this dysbiosis (essentially, an imbalance between good bacteria and bad bacteria) can contribute to a whole host of GI issues, as well as chronic fatigue, inflammation, food intolerances, and even diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

This means that increasing your antioxidant intake is a solid strategy for keeping oxidative stress down, and gut health up.

How to get increase your antioxidant intake.

The Journal of Functional Foods review goes on to explain how different sources of antioxidants–such as carotenoids, polyphenols, ascorbic acid, and mineral elements such as zinc and selenium–have unique benefits for gut health. This means that it’s beneficial to pile a variety of antioxidant-rich foods onto your plate. One easy way to do so is to “eat the rainbow” and opt for a host of colorful ingredients, as color relates to the antioxidant capacity in some fruits and vegetables.

Introducing dietary supplements to your routine is another way to keep your microbiota in tip-top shape. You can opt for a supplement that isolates potent antioxidants like vitamin C and zinc, or contains antioxidant-rich ingredients such as turmeric–which has been shown to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from oxidative stress.

The review authors note that it’s especially important to prioritize antioxidant-rich ingredients following periods of poor gut health, like after you take antibiotic medication or indulge in lots of delicious (but not so gut-friendly) sweets and highly processed foods.

The takeaway.

Loading up on a variety of antioxidant-rich foods and supplements is key for keeping your gut microbiome strong and diverse, a new review confirms. Time for a rainbow salad, anyone?

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