If you’re looking to lose weight, inches around the waist, and improve your overall health, ketogenic and low-carb diets are a great option. However, if you decide to start this type of diet, there are a few things you need to be aware of, including the fact that it could impact your gut health.
As a byproduct of reducing the number of carbs you eat, you’re inadvertently affecting other parts of your body, specifically your GI system. Many of the foods and drinks you cut out as a result of your dietary changes are important for gut health. Therefore, you’ll have to find ways to replace them while still sticking to your low-carb diet.
If you want to reap the rewards of a ketogenic, low-carb diet without sacrificing your gut health, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll look at how and why a lack of carbs can impact your gut health, as well as how to maintain a healthy gut while on a ketogenic diet.
What is Your Gut Microbiome and Why is It Important?
Before we can delve into how a ketogenic or low-carb diet affects your gut health, it’s important to understand what your gut microbiome is and the role it plays in your body.
Your gut microbiome refers to the millions and trillions of bacteria and organisms that are living inside your intestinal tract. In a healthy person, most of these bacteria are considered good bacteria, such as probiotics and prebiotics.
In addition to helping you maintain a healthy gut, your gut microbiome helps you have regular bowel movements and healthy stool and boosts your overall health. Your gut microbiome also helps improve the digestive process and provides a boost to your immune system so that you can fight off sickness and infection.
Therefore, when you don’t have a healthy gut microbiome, aka gut, you’re at risk for a number of conditions and health problems.
How Do Low-Carb Diets Impact Your Gut Microbiome?
First off, it’s important to note that low-carb diets aren’t all bad when it comes to your gut health. For instance, reducing the number of carbs in your diet will actually increase the number of certain types of healthy bacteria in your gut. It does this through a process known as ketosis, where your body converts fat into energy rather than carbs and glucose.
Secondly, most of the healthy bacteria that increase as a result of the keto diet are beneficial for your mental health. They also help reduce some of the symptoms people get when they have a neurological disorder such as Alzheimer’s, MS, or autism.
Negative Effects of a Low-Carb Diet on Gut Health
However, for all the good that a low-carb diet can do for your gut, most people believe that the cons outweigh the advantages. Here are the main negative gut health effects that can result from a ketogenic diet.
One of the main reasons that people like low-carb diets is because it decreases inflammation throughout the body. However, the opposite is true for the gut, as a reduction in carbs actually results in increased gut inflammation. This, in turn, can lead to colitis which is inflammation of the colon.
Less Microbiome Diversity
While a reduction in carbs increases the amount of certain healthy bacteria in your gut, it decreases the number of many others. This reduction in healthy bacteria can result in digestive problems, occasional constipation, and other more serious health issues like IBS.
More Unhealthy Gut Bacteria
As the number of healthy bacteria in your gut decreases, the number of unhealthy bacteria increases. In a healthy gut, the good bacteria fight off the bad bacteria, so when you don’t have enough good bacteria, there will be more unhealthy bacteria. This increase in bad bacteria can lead to IBS, a weakened immune system, and more.
How to Maintain Gut Health While on a Low-Carb Diet
If you’re determined to go on a ketogenic, low-carb diet but want to keep your gut healthy, here’s what you need to do.
Eat Foods That Improve Gut Health
The key to maintaining gut health on a low-carb diet is finding foods that promote the production of healthy bacteria but that are also low in carbs. Here are some of the best options.
- Coconut Oil
- Non-starch leafy greens
Each of these foods is keto-friendly and promotes gut health.
Eat More Fiber
Fiber is one of the most underrated components of having a healthy diet and gut. Unfortunately, fiber is found most readily in many of the foods that you have to cut out to maintain a low-carb diet. By eating the foods listed above, however, you can increase your gut health by increasing the amount of fiber in your body.
Consider Taking Vitamins and Supplements
Finally, while dietary changes are a great start, it isn’t always enough to maintain a healthy gut on a keto diet. If you need more fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your system that increase gut health, you should consider taking prebiotics, probiotics, or a kefir supplement.*
By following these tips and tricks and by drinking plenty of water, you can keep your gut healthy while partaking in all the benefits of a ketogenic, low-carb diet.
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