French fries
Long recognized as contributing to the development of diabetes and heart disease, fried foods are also quite harmful to gut bacteria. (For Spectrum Health Beat)


Just the sound of the word makes us all cringe and want to get out antibacterial wipes. But not all bacteria are bad. In fact, we need them to survive.

Bacteria and other microorganisms live in our gut, where they play an important role in preventing disease and boosting health.

To promote growth of beneficial bacteria, eating foods rich in fiber is crucial.

And while we set out to kill bacteria in our kitchens and bathrooms, we need to be careful not to kill off the friendly bacteria in our gut by eating the wrong things.

Top microbiome killers to watch for:

Sugar, refined flours

Sugar and refined flours are devoid of fiber, the fuel of good bacteria, and they can also decrease the amount of beneficial bacteria. Look for whole grain options whenever possible and keep added sugars to a minimum.

Animal protein

Animal proteins are also devoid of fiber. They create a more inflammatory environment with increased risk for inflammatory bowel disease. Keep animal proteins as a side item on your plate or move to more plant-based proteins that can help grow a healthy gut flora.

Fried foods

We know the oils in fried foods are dangerous for our heart, but they can also destroy friendly bacteria. Go for baked options to find your crunch.

Artificial sweeteners

We often go for sugar-free items to reduce our sugar intake. This can backfire, however, and have a negative effect on our microbiome. Wean down on sweeteners and let your taste buds adjust to foods that are less sweet. Use small amounts of honey or pure maple syrup if a sweetener is needed.


High stress can actually alter the gut microbiome. Be sure to incorporate regular stress management techniques into your daily routine to improve gut health.


While they are essential for clearing dangerous infections, antibiotics can also kill our beneficial gut bacteria. Be sure to include probiotic-rich foods or supplements after any antibiotic treatment and avoid any animal products where the animal has been given antibiotics.

It’s essential to avoid these microbiome killers not only to build a healthy gut, but also to bolster overall health.