Care & Feeding of Your Gut Flora

Our bodies contain roughly 10 times more microorganism cells than human cells. Gross? Not really. Imagine them as the little workers keeping the massive factory of your body functioning. These microorganisms are of different types such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeasts, and they make up our microbiota, or gut flora… and we can’t live without them.

Most of them are in our digestive system, but they are in other parts of our bodies as well. To maintain a healthy, vital life and a good immune system, we must treat these tiny creatures well because they are one of the great secrets of healthy living.

Sadly, our modern food production system is so focused on quantity over quality, many of the foods available to us are processed foods – stretched with fillers, grown with pesticides, enhanced with hormones, protected by preservatives, and full of refined sugars and starches. Diet can be a root cause of many modern ailments, precisely because these processed and highly refined foods upset our gut flora and without a healthy gut, the rest of our bodies can’t be healthy.

Overprescribing antibiotics for even minor infections also harms our microbiota, and we’ve all heard of “superbugs” — strains of bacteria that have become resistant to even the strongest antibiotics, because our natural defense system just can’t flourish.

So what can we do to keep our gut flora healthy and happy?

Reduce or Remove Sugar and Flour in Your Diet

The best most effective thing you can do is eliminate ALL sugar and flour — and in fact, most processed foods — from your diet. If that simply isn’t doable right away, start with reductions and keep reducing these foods until you never, or almost never, consume them.

Yes, I know this sounds drastic! But please try it – once you start seeing how much better you feel, it won’t seem like such a sacrifice.

But WHY? Simple sugars fuel the growth of pathogens — the “bad” bacteria that can take over and force out the “good” bacteria. These microbes then produce metabolic waste that is detrimental to your health.

waterDon’t Drink the (Tap) Water

Our tap water is processed with chlorine and chlorine kills microbes, both good and bad. Use pure spring water instead, or install a good-quality filter. This goes for shower water, too — you can get a filtering shower head for less investment than you’d think.

Toss Those Antibacterial Soaps

Antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, and other antibacterial products are slowly getting a reputation for playing a part in the Super-Bug creation and it isn’t all hearsay. The hostile strains that survive the anti-bacterial inundation are only the meanest and strongest. So then those reproduce… and you get juiced up, harmful bacteria that can resist and survive our first line of defense.

Natural Childbirth and Breastfeeding Give Kids Extra Good Gut Flora

Of course, these choices vary case by case, but if you are pregnant and have the option to do so, giving birth naturally and breastfeeding for at least 6 months (1-2 years is even better) will start your child off with a stronger immune system and balanced “good” bacteria. Studies show that Caesarian section babies who are then bottle-fed rather than breastfed will have a somewhat more difficult infancy because they are not exposed to their mother’s bacteria early on — they tend to have more earaches and other minor childhoods problems, but they are also more likely to suffer from autism, ADHD, and Tourette’s syndrome.

Don’t Eat Antibiotic-Infused Meats

If you eat meat, it should be free of antibiotics for optimum health. Most commercial meat operations — such as beef, pork, poultry, and farmed fish — excessively dose the animals with antibiotics, making them fatter (so more profitable) and preventing illness in the overcrowded, unhealthy conditions they are raised in.

To find out where your meat is from, check the label or packaging, and try to purchase meats labelled organic, grass-fed, free-range, or, in the case of fish, wild. Don’t get taken in by the label “natural” or “farm raised” – they are basically meaningless and require no testing or certification process to be included on a package.

Do Eat and Drink Probiotics

Probiotic foods and beverages are available in specialty markets and health food stores; look for pickles (raw and packed in brine, rather than vinegar), sauerkraut (raw), kimchi, kefir, yogurt (check that it has no sugar added and that live microbes are added after pasteurization), and kombucha drinks (check these for extra sugar too). You can even get a crock and make your own sauerkraut or kimchi. Locally made sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, or other fermented products that are raw and fermented, not pickled in vinegar, can all add to your population of “good” microbes in system.

Consider Probiotic Supplements

Quality probiotic capsules can be located in the refrigerated section of your health food or supplement store, and can boost your good bacteria — particularly if you don’t regularly consume many probiotic foods. You want the kind that contains a good variety of strains and a high number of organisms. You can often find these customized for your individual health issues, such as for women, seniors, etc.

040Eat PREbiotics

So you’ve squelched and starved the invasion of bad gut bacteria AND you’ve tweaked your diet to increase the good bacteria. Now you have to feed them! Prebiotics are foods our microbes need to thrive. Plant material is the best for this, because they live for fiber. They predominantly prefer jicama, Jerusalem artichoke, raw chicory root, dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, and asparagus, but any kind of vegetable you can get is going to help. Not to mention all the vitamins and other essential body-building-blocks that you can get from a mostly plant-based diet.

Prebiotics are also where Micronized Purple Rice can assist you. I am not the only one who believes gut flora is very fond of MPR, and Dr. Doug Gabbert agrees. He says MPR can benefit our gut microbes:

“Gut microbes need nutrition — they’re alive — they feed off of what we eat. Plant material is very important to them. From that fuel, they’re able to help maintain a healthy GI tract. They thrive on the polysaccharides (complex sugars) in MPR, but they also benefit from the polypeptides (amino acid chains) as well. Micronized Purple Rice is a superfood for our gut flora!

We’re seeing wonderful testimonials from people with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, celiac disease, colitis, constipation, and diarrhea responding very well to MPR, and I believe part of that is because it helps improve our gut flora.”

What methods of keeping your gut flora thriving and balanced are you working on?

Tell me in the comments!

 

This is the user’s individual experience.  It does not reflect any claims made by the product’s manufacturer or distributor and is not supported by any scientific studies.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.

 

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