A healthy body requires a good balance of healthy gut bacteria, also referred to as probiotics or microflora. Probiotics are healthy microorganisms that live in your intestinal tract and keep your gut healthy by helping to digest the food you eat and move waste through your intestinal tract to be eliminated. Friendly gut bacteria is depleted by stress, antibiotics, excess sugar, processed foods and alcohol as well as the consumption of herbicides and pesticides present in our food supply. Food borne illness such as salmonella or E.Coli can also wreak havoc on your digestive system and rid your body of its supply of good bacteria. With the absence of probiotics in your gut, you are more susceptible to allergies, yeast overgrowth (candida), illness and disease.
Symptoms of depleted gut bacteria tend to show up in the digestive system as bloating, constipation, flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome. Fatigue, skin disorders such as acne and frequent illness or infections can also be symptoms of an overgrowth of “unfriendly” gut bacteria. Believe it or not, we do require a small amount of unfriendly gut bacteria in our systems, but it’s extremely important to have a ratio where the good bacteria far outweighs the bad (think 85% to 15%). As you can see, probiotics can very well be considered one of the key fundamental requirements for good health.
Here are three ways to keep your gut bacteria in check, and rebalance your healthy gut bacteria if you suspect it may be compromised.
1. Eat Fermented Foods Fermented foods such as plain organic yogurt, tempeh, kefir and sauerkraut naturally contain probiotics. Incorporating these foods into your diet on a regular basis will offer your body a steady supply of probiotics.
2. Eat Foods Rich in Prebiotics Prebiotics are found in fiber and are unable to be digested by the human body- therefore, they feed your friendly probiotics. An example of a prebiotic is inulin, a type of plant fiber found in chicory root, whole wheat, onions, garlic, asparagus, and bananas. Eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains that contain prebiotics will feed and promote the growth of your healthy gut bacteria.
3. Supplement With a Probiotic Capsule In addition to a diet that contains fermented and whole foods rich in fiber, a probiotic supplement is one of the most effective and more concentrated ways to restore the good bacteria in your gut. A therapeutic dosage of probiotics will depend on age and current state of health, so as with any supplement, it’s recommended to check in with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine the right path of supplementation for you.
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