Bacteria is not always bad. In fact, our human body is home to billions of microbial cells also known as bacterial organisms both good and bad. A majority of the good, beneficial bacterial organisms called microbiome is located in our gut.
It is essential to keep the microbiome balanced and healthy not only for good digestive and hormonal functions, but also for the overall wellbeing of the brain; the immune system, and the skin which is the largest organ in our body.
Some of the things and ways the microbiome is harshly affected making us susceptible to disease and illness are through activities and lifestyles that are unhealthy:
– Consumption of processed foods, added sugars, hydrogenated fats
– Excessive consumption of alcohol
– Lack of sleep or poor sleeping habits and stress
– Over medicating, specifically with antibiotics and pain relievers
– Environmental pollution and added chemicals in food and water
Autoimmune diseases, some cancers, heart disease, dementia, arthritis, diabetes, psoriasis, infertility, inflammation and digestive disorders can all be traced back to the unhealthy state of the microbiome in the gut.
Lifestyle modification, and adaptation of healthy habits can reshape the condition of the microbiome thereby improving the overall health, possibly reversing certain illnesses and conditions, and fostering happiness and longevity.
Diet plays an important role in establishing and restoring your gut health, just as your gut health is essential in breaking down food and absorption of nutrients, storing fat and the elimination of toxins.
Many natural and high antioxidant foods help maintain and increase good bacteria in the gut. It lowers cholesterol, prevents some cancers and improves brain health. A well balanced healthy diet typically should include the following:
Fruits such as apples, all berries, cherries, citrus including oranges, lemons, grapefruit, nectarines, plums, peaches and apricots, pears, pomegranates, bananas and avocados contain high levels of antioxidants which are essential for brain health, repairing and reducing cell damage and in cancer prevention.
Dark leafy greens vegetables – kale, collard greens, spinach; cruciferous vegetables – cabbage, bokchoy, brussel sprouts, broccoli; artichokes, and beans lowers cholesterol and reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system and lowers cancer risk.
Herbs and spices (also in teas) such as peppermint, fennel, coriander, ginger, garlic, turmeric and cumin encourage a healthy gut flora. These natural soothing digestive aids are helpful in balancing stomach acid, eliminates bloating and gas, cures nausea and queasiness, relieves constipation and prevents diarrhea.
Taking a probiotic supplement is a great way to add more probiotics in your system to naturally boost the good probiotics in your gut. Different probiotic strains may provide or support completely different benefits from other strains. It is therefore important to know what you need it for: immunity health, digestive issues, hormonal balance or weight loss to name a few; and to choose the right supplement for the right condition.
Proteins high in omega-3 fatty acids such as wild-caught salmon, free range chicken and eggs, grass-fed and pasture-raised meat are great sources of essential nutrients like zinc, selenium and B vitamins.
Magnesium rich foods such as dark chocolate, avocados, nuts and seeds, legumes and red wine in moderation are helpful in regulating chemical reactions in the body.
Probiotic foods contain good-for-you bacteria which fights off and eliminates the unhealthy bacterial strains in your gut. Good bacteria such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria thrive in the fermentation process of food, and continues on with its essential benefits in the gut. Gradually incorporating probiotic foods in your diet (in moderation) will improve the digestive system in the absorption of nutrients and your overall health including immune function, liver detoxification, decreased levels of blood pressure and cholesterol, increased energy and weight loss.
Some of the more commonly known probiotic foods are: fermented or cultured vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut; dairy products yogurt and kefir; kombucha which is an effervescent fermented black tea; non-dairy coconut kefir, kvass is a fermented beverage made from rye or barley; tempeh, miso and natto which are fermented soybean products.
Probiotics are considered safe, and are well tolerated by most people. You may experience some abdominal discomfort in the first few days of adding on probiotic foods or supplements to your daily regimen. As with everything else, always start gradually and in moderation. It is always recommended that you consult with your health practitioner before taking any new supplements or if initial discomfort and symptoms do not subside.
Maintaining and keeping your gut happy and healthy goes beyond implementing a diet rich in antioxidants and probiotics. Your daily activities, habits and lifestyles are key factors that greatly influence and affect your gut bacteria.