Feed Your Inner Zoo!January 4th, 2014 by David
Did you know that you host an entire universe of bacteria in your gut? No need to freak out and neck a bottle of Dettol, this bacteria is super healthy and required for immune and digestive function, amongst a realm of other important tasks.
Your gut bacteria is housed in your colon and broadly speaking is divided into two camps – good and bad! They are termed ‘micro flora’ and your diet and lifestyle determine how optimal the balance is.
Many people suffer an unfavourable balance of gut bacteria, which lends to overgrowth of bad bacteria promoting digestive ailments, yeast overgrowth such as candida and low immune function. Antibiotics can wipe out colonies of your gut, which include the good guys – and this can lead to ‘dys-biosis’ – a common condition describing the over-riding presence of unhealthy bacteria. Stress, diet and alcohol can all work to diminish good stores of bacteria and promote the bad guys prevailing.
In the interest of disease prevention, digestive harmony and healthy bowel function you need to replenish your zoo of friendly bacteria, and reign in the bad.
Let’s first look at antibiotics – most of us have undergone at least a course or two of these in our lifetime. If you are fighting a losing battle against illness or infection, sometimes they are the only answer. It is vital that you take action after a course of antibiotics to repopulate your gut, otherwise the bad bacteria will speedily colonise – this is why it is common for people to experience yeast and candida overgrowth in the form of thrush after taking antibiotics. This is a symptom that you can see on the outside of your body – imagine the chaos inside!
The following tips are not exclusive to antibiotic takers, they are important habits that should be ingrained in every healthy lifestyle in the name of gut harmony
Inner zoo feeding rules:
Probiotics – Probiotic foods include any that are ‘live’ or fermented. Examples include liver yoghurt, miso soup and sauerkraut. Incorporate plenty of fermented foods into your diet to help swallow some good guys.
Pre biotics – Pre biotic foods nourish the good gut bacteria and encourage them to proliferate and grow. These include onions, shallots, oats, slightly under-ripe bananas, chicory, leeks and Jerusalem artichoke. Eat them to send a feast to your friendly micro flora.
Supplements – Pro biotic supplements are especially important to anyone having undergone antibiotic treatment, as they send a wave of good bacteria in therapeutic dose, which 10 pots of yoghurt couldn’t deliver. These supplements are also specifically recommended to anyone who has compromised immune function, bacterial infections, a history of candida or thrush, or digestive complaints.
So which to look for? Acidophilus or lactobacillus strains, of 10 billion dosage or above – yes this sounds excessive but when you see the tiny pills you’ll be relieved to see that these bacteria are pretty compact little creatures! Look for supplements with a strong coating on the outside, as they need to survive the hostile conditions of the gut acid drenched digestive tract, before taking up residence in the colon.
Do discuss with a healthcare practitioner before starting any new supplements – for example you may need to go on an anti-candida programme before any supplements will be of any benefit to you.