We often talk about how important the correct balance of intestinal flora is for overall health, but have you ever thought about how to care for these organisms?
Just like a pet, the good bacteria in your intestinal tract need to be looked after and fed regularly. Taking a probiotic will help you to re-colonise when populations are low, but doesn’t provide the species diversity and maturity that can only be obtained a healthy and well cared for colon.
Five Things Good Bacteria Don’t Like – How to Create a Healthy Environment?
The first step is proper care for your good bacteria is to remove those things that will reduce their numbers. These are the five golden rules we give clients to help treat dysbiosis.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics killl both good and bad bacteria, unfortunately this makes your colon a perfect breeding ground for yeasts and fungal organisms. Try to avoid taking antibiotics unless needed, and always make sure you take probiotics or include fermented foods in your diet at the same time.
- Alcohol and coffee: Excessive intake of both alcohol and coffee have been linked to lower populations of good bacteria. Swap the coffee for green tea and stop drinking, or limit alcohol intake to 1 – 2 standard drinks per week.
- Chlorine: The chlorine in drinking water not only kills any micro-organisms in the water but also kills the good bacteria in your bowel. Try to drink filtered water wherever possible.
- Stress: Stress will not only create a toxic emotional environment, but also a toxic bowel environment. Stress slows peristalsis and colonic transit times leading to putrefaction of food in the bowel and the production of toxic waste products.
- Heavy metal toxicity: Low levels of heavy metal toxicity from mercury, lead, and cadmium are becoming increasingly common and have a very similar effect on gut bacteria as antibiotics. Wherever possible try to avoid common sources of heavy metal toxicity by drinking filtered water, consuming organic produce, and reducing the intake of fish and sea foods.
Prebiotics – What Do You Feed Good Bacteria?
But, what do good bacteria like? Prebiotics, they’re like an all you can eat buffet for the good bacteria!
Prebiotic is a general term for the whole range of soluble fibre that humans can’t digest but that our good bacteria thrive on. Prebiotics come in a number of different forms:
- galactooligosaccharides and other oligosaccharides.
The higher your intake of prebiotics the higher the number of good bacteria in the gastro intestinal tract. The greater the number of good bacteria the greater your overall health and the more powerfully equipped your immune system to fight off the bacteria you don’t want.
What Are Good Sources of Prebiotics?
Fortunately, soluble fibre is easy to include in the diet being present in incredibly high concentrations in a whole range of nutritious, low calorie vegetables. If we use Inulin (not to be confused with Insulin), one of the most well known of the soluble fibre family, as an example we find it present in concentrations as high 18,000 mg per 100g in Jerusalem Artichoke (shown above).
While Jerusalem Artichoke may not make it on everyone’s table the humble onion and garlic, base of so many good stir fries, provides 4,000 and 12,500 mg of inulin per 100g respectively. Onion and garlic are also potent natural antibiotics that reduce levels of bad bacteria while preserving good bacteria, so it’s really an extra bonus!
Studies have shown that doses as low as 2.5g of soluble fibre twice a day prevented a decrease in the population size of beneficial bacteria.(Bouhnik). This means the old saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away should be two pears a day keeps the doctor away. Pears have one of the highest soluble fibre contents of any fruit, while much of the fibre in an apple is of the insoluble sort, this is the sort that passes straight through the digestive system working as a bulking agent only.
Remember, 2.5g twice daily was the minimum amount needed to prevent a decline, this doesn’t allow for other factors that may be working to reduce population numbers: alcohol and coffee, chlorinated water, stress and antibiotics. So if you’re ready to give those good bacteria a feast, start making sure each meal consists of one palm sized portion of protein and three handfuls of fibre in the form of vegetables, excluding potatoes, and reap the rewards.
If you would like to know more information or make an appointment with our Nutritionist to talk about total dietary revision to meet your specific wellness goals, feel free to call us on07 3800 1993 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Sources For This Story Include
- Bouhnik, Y. et al. “Prolonged Administration of Bifidobacteria in humans”. 27.4 (2007):187–193
- Brudinak, M.A. “Probiotics as an adujvant to detoxification protocols.” 58.5 (2002): 382–385
- DietaryFiberFood.com. “Total Dietary, Soluble and Insoluble Fibre Content of Foods: Vegetables, Fruits and Legumes”, 11th October 2009. http://www.dietaryfiberfood.com/fiber-content.php (18 Aug 2010)
- Cichoke, Anthony. J. New York: Avery Publishing Group, 1999.
- Fillipo, C.D et al. “Impact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and rural Africa”, 30 June 2010. http://www.pnas.org/content/107/33/14691 (18 Aug 2010)
- Head, K. A, et al. “Nutrients and Botanicals for Treatment of Stress: Adrenal Fatigue, Neurotransmitter Imbalance, Anxiety and Restless Sleep”. 14.2 (2009)