How to get friendly bacteria
Your body is a walking repository for microorganisms, and their cells outnumber yours 10 to 1. Some of us have herds of mites grazing on our eyebrows. Others have fungi meandering between our toes. No one is immune. Good bacteria spend their days destroying their harmful cousins, picking through undigested leftovers and micromanaging calories. But when stress, medications or a poor diet among other factors lay waste to these friendly flora, bad bacteria rush in to fill the void.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Good Germs vs. Bad Germs
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K imchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso and kefir — all fermented foods and drinks — have been around for centuries, but suddenly they are all the rage. The reason? They are supposedly packed full of gut-healthy microorganisms, and we are finally waking up to just how much the trillions of microorganisms that live in our guts AKA the gut microbiome contribute to our mental and physical health.
But Yakult is fairly bland and sweet. Traditional and home-fermented delicacies are another, more pungent matter altogether: kombucha a naturally fizzy cocktail of green tea and sugar tastes vinegary; kimchi vegetables fermented Korean-style is sour and fiery; sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage, whiffs of sulphur. All can intimidate palates used to highly processed western blandness.
Because of how they are prepared, they all contain microorganisms that boost the diversity of good bacteria , yeasts and fungi living in our guts. Harbouring a flourishing gut flora has been linked to lower obesity, fewer autoimmune conditions and digestion problems, longer lifespan, good brain function and happiness. Some very big companies are beginning to take this on board.
If you could never quite trust the mouldering kombucha you once nurtured in your airing cupboard, now you can buy some from Whole Foods instead. Take sauerkraut, the pickled cabbage beloved of central Europeans. This stops it going off, while adding a vinegary twang. As with live yoghurt, the probiotics are the friendly bacteria food contains, whereas prebiotic is the word for substances that feed your gut flora.
All yoghurt is fermented and the milk used to make products for sale is legally required to be pasteurised to kill off pathogens, after which a few strains of lab-produced friendly bacteria are added. Sourdough bread is extolled for its natural wild fermentation, harvesting diverse yeasts and Lactobacillus bacteria from the environment, but they then all perish in the oven.
The main health benefits come from microbes having chomped away on lots of fibre, breaking down the gluten proteins, releasing tasty, mould-deterring acids, rendering the nutrients more digestible and lowering the glucose spike after consumption.
Of course, alcoholic drinks are fermented, too, and red wine in moderation is actively gut-friendly. This is partly to do with the polyphenols in red wine, which you may have already heard about in their capacity as antioxidants, but they have the added benefit of being rocket fuel for good bacteria. It seems to be the combination of alcohol and polyphenols that is especially good.
So, alcohol plus the fruit is good. The alcohol has killed off the fermenting microbes before you drink, but you still get the tasty and useful chemical byproducts from fermentation.
If you were to view your microbiome as a garden, fibre would be your fertiliser. Spector reckons that most people need to double their intake. Foods containing the best fibre types for your microbes — AKA prebiotic foods — include artichokes, jerusalem artichokes, leeks, celery, chicory, onions and garlic.
Variety is the top priority. The exciting news for carb lovers is that you can render potatoes, rice and pasta more prebiotic by cooking and then cooling them and then either eating them cold or reheating them be careful with rice, which can potentially harbour unhealthy bacteria.
Fasting — a dietary habit as ancient as fermenting — is also beneficial to gut health. But intermittent fasting with low-calorie days, or simply leaving long gaps between meals, is beneficial for your gut microbes. Skipping breakfast has generally been shown to be good for adults and helps you lose weight. Whereas we are told to always eat breakfast and continual snacking is encouraged. If you give animals lots of sweeteners, you get a reduction in diversity of the microbes and they produce abnormal chemicals — different metabolic signals which have been shown to be more likely to give you diabetes and make you put on weight.
Then they send out signals that promote obesity. Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Diets and dieting Food features. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading?
10 ways to improve gut health
In many ways, your gut bacteria are as vast and mysterious as the Milky Way. About trillion bacteria, both good and bad, live inside your digestive system. Collectively, they're known as the gut microbiota.
The role of gut bacteria in health and disease has become increasingly clear in the last few years. However there are still many unanswered questions. Below is a collection of articles on this subject. View the original article. What if I told you that scientists are hot on the trail of discoveries that may one day improve the treatment of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, immune disorders, digestive conditions and mental health problems?
What should I eat for a healthy gut?
Bacteria in your digestive tract? Sounds gross, right? Not so fast. Large numbers of microorganisms live ON and IN our bodies. Probiotics keep us in balance: These active cultures help change our intestinal bacteria to balance gut flora. This functional component may boost immunity and overall health, especially GI health. Evidence supports the use of probiotics for management of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, and some strains have even been used to reduce symptoms of allergies and lactose intolerance. However, effects can vary from person to person.
Probiotics: Good bacteria that promote a healthy digestive system and healthier you
Next time you pick up a yoghurt that is packed with friendly bacteria, take a look at the label. It may contain Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifidum — these are common bacterial cultures that have been shown to have a beneficial effect on our health. Your gut bacteria are so important because they form a key part of the microbiome — the collective name given to the bacteria that live inside every one of us. Scientists are now beginning to discover that what we eat directly impacts on the balance of our gut bacteria and, in turn, our general health. Friendly bacteria are found naturally in some foods, such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and kombucha, a fermented tea.
But we are by no means permanently attached to a diagnosis of Major Depression Disorder if that is what Mom and Dad kindly handed down. Each of us also has a complex collection of bacteria living in our guts — our distinct microbiome — that also has genes. Since there is much we can do to shape the environment within our guts, we have control over our microbiota and can compensate for the lack of control we have over our human genome.
Good Bacteria Welcome
Confused about what to eat and what not to eat? Live yoghurt is an excellent source of so-called friendly bacteria, also known as probiotics. Look out for sugar-free, full-fat versions and add your own fruit for a tasty breakfast.
Support our lifesaving work. Make a donation to the Physicians Committee today. Donate Now. A plant-based diet can improve health and prevent disease by feeding the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Trillions of bacteria live in your digestive tract and play an important role in health. Of the thousands of species of gut microbes that live in your gut, however, some are healthy for your body—while others are not.
10 Ways to Cultivate Good Gut Bacteria and Reduce Depression
If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works. Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Looking after the health of the gut and maintaining the right balance of these microorganisms is vital for physical and mental health, immunity, and more. Many microbes are beneficial for human health, and some are even essential. Others can be harmful, especially when they multiply. In this article, we list 10 scientifically supported ways to improve the gut microbiome and enhance overall health. To boost the beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, in the gut, some people choose to take probiotic supplements.
Can gut bacteria improve your health?