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Relax your cleaning schedule for a healthier gut

HealthBy Sunday World
Relax your cleaning schedule for a healthier gut

Those of you who aren't a slave to the shower and don't see the harm in letting the dust build up could be in luck, as it's been suggested a slightly relaxed attitude to cleanliness could be beneficial in the long term.

The gut should be crammed with friendly bacteria which needs a good amount of fibre, found in things like fruit, vegetables and bran, to flourish. It's important as it works to neutralise toxins, aids digestion, gets rid of harmful substances, plus it helps cut the risk of bad bacteria.

However, researchers at America's Stanford School of Medicine have found that modern diets have such a small amount of fibre in them that certain microbes are under threat of extinction in the gut. Even worse, the issue can be passed down through generations, meaning that children and grandchildren could be affected by your diet.

Bacteria can also be picked up externally, which is why we might need to rethink how we approach cleanliness. The use of antibiotics, more prolific caesarean sections and a drop in the amount of people who breastfeed have all had an impact on bacteria levels. So the advice is not to use antibiotics unless they are strictly necessary and to stop washing your hands after you've done things like played with a dog or some gardening.

The research team discovered the link between fibre and bacteria by looking at mice. It was found that some of the microbes in the rodents' stomachs appeared to be under the threat of extinction when they were fed a diet close to that of many first world countries.

"We would have difficulty living without them," Dr Justin Sonnenburg said of the gut bacteria. "They fend off pathogens (which cause disease), train our immune systems and even guide the development of our tissues."

One group of mice was given a low-fibre diet and another one rich in the food type, with those who didn't eat as much fibre showing a 75 per cent reduction in gut microbes after a few weeks. Some types had completely vanished from the creatures’ stomachs. Even more shocking, the trend continued in the rodents’ babies. By the fourth generation of mice, many exhibited up to 75 per cent less bacteria than their older relatives.

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