Gut health is all the rage. It’s probably why you landed on this page. But if you’re like us, you probably need a little refresher on why this emerging science is so important. So here goes: More than 100 trillion bacteria are floating around your gut—a flora, if you will, of microbes both good and bad for your health. Most of these belong to one of the following groups: Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria or Proteobacteria, according to the National Institutes of Health, and each plays a significant role in how our bodies break down and absorb food, nutrition and energy. When an imbalance happens in your gut and the bad guys take over, it’s called dysbiosis, which can lead to weight gain, inflammation (hello, bloat) and even IBS and some cancers. Doctors are only beginning to learn about the gut and how it affects pretty much every other aspect of our health, but a clear picture is beginning to form when it comes to what’s good and bad for the gut.
Inspired by that research, we rounded up the handy list below of five foods to stay away from in order to live your best gut health life—but not entirely, since some of our faves (RIP, booze) didn’t make the gut cut. It’s all about balance, amirite?