Tips to safeguard gut flora | Updated: 2023-06-30
What is gut flora?
Gut flora is a group of microorganisms that exist in the human intestinal tract. There are about 1,000 trillion intestinal microorganisms and about 1,000 different types.
Gut flora is a stable community whose structure and function will change in different stages of the human life cycle, and is closely related to human health and disease development.
Classification and roles of gut flora
According to the effect on the human body, the intestinal flora can be divided into three categories: probiotics, neutral bacteria and pathogenic bacteria.
Probiotics, which are beneficial to human health, account for about 20 percent. They can promote intestinal peristalsis and food digestion, inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, decompose harmful substances, and enhance immunity. Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus are two typical examples.
Neutral bacteria, such as Streptococcus and Escherichia coli, account for about 70 percent. They are harmless to the human body under normal circumstances, but can multiply in large numbers and cause diseases when the flora system in disorder. 
Pathogenic bacteria, such as Staphylococcus and Proteus, are harmful to the human body. This kind, accounting for about 10 percent, is restricted by beneficial bacteria. However, once the number of them increases sharply, it will affect the immune system and cause diseases.
How to improve gut flora through diet?
Keep a balanced diet.
The Dietary Guidelines for Chinese Residents recommends a daily intake of more than 12 types of food and a weekly intake of more than 25 types of food. A balanced diet is conducive to a healthy intestinal environment and the diversification of intestinal flora.
Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
These foods are rich in dietary fiber, prebiotics and polyphenols, which help to balance intestinal flora. People can appropriately increase their consumption of the following foods: apples, green vegetables, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, yams, soybeans and brown rice.
Eat fermented foods.
Fermented foods, such as yogurt, cheese, pickles and sauerkraut, can supplement certain probiotics. People who often drink yogurt have more Lactobacillus and less Escherichia coli in their intestines.
Prohibit the abuse of antibiotics.
Antibiotics can inhibit the growth of bacterial flora and kill beneficial bacteria and pathogenic bacteria indiscriminately, disrupting the balance of intestinal flora. Please be prudent when using antibiotics and eat less antibiotic-fed meat.
Breast milk is rich in prebiotics and immunoglobulins, which can strengthen a baby's immunity. Studies have pointed out that compared with formula milk, breastfed infants have more bifidobacteria and bacteroides and fewer potential pathogenic bacteria in their intestines.