What do you think when you hear the word “bacteria”?   Most people think that all bacteria are bad and need to be destroyed, however that is far from the truth.  The human intestinal track is made up of a miraculous complex collection of bugs called the gut microbiome or microbiota. It contains tens of trillions of beneficial bacteria that out-number all other cells in the body, 10 to one.

These beneficial bacteria protect our immune system, by maintaining a healthy intestinal lining, destroying pathogenic bacteria, yeast and other organisms, and allow regeneration of a healthy population of enterocytes, the intestine’s barrier system or defense army.   The microbiota is imperative to helping digest foods not digested by the stomach or small intestine, helps with production of some vitamins (B and K), and is imperative to proper digestion and assimilation.

The microbiota is instrumental in gene expression and essential functioning of the body, which has been attributed to things such as weight management, fighting auto-immune conditions(Type I Diabetes, Celiac disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s  Thyroiditis, Crohn’s , Multiple Sclerosis, etc), Inflammatory  diseases( High blood pressure, High Cholesterol, Type II Diabetes), Asthma, Allergies, and syndromes(irritable bowel,fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue).

Each person has a unique and individual microbiome that is derived at birth, through the mother’s vaginal(50% father’s flora and 50% mother’s flora), fecal, breast and skin organisms.  Population of beneficial bacteria depends on the method of birth: c-section vs vaginal, the location of birth: air quality, and other environmental conditions, the method of feeding: breast milk vs formula.   Research shows that a child’s immune system is developed by the age of three and requires attention to remain vital, due to environmental damage from poor quality foods, toxins such as pesticides and increased use of pharmaceuticals.

Choice of foods can alter your microflora in a matter of days, for better or worse.  Eating a diet consisting of refined, processed foods causes the good bacteria to die because a processed food diet does not provide adequate fiber for nourishment of the bacteria allowing them to thrive and multiply.   A diet rich in whole, nutrient dense, properly prepared foods is imperative to avoid chronic diseases and auto-immune conditions.

The ideal and most cost-effective way to optimize your gut flora is to include fermented and cultured foods in your daily diet. While most probiotic supplements contain no more than 10 billion colony forming units, one serving of fermented food contains trillions of beneficial bacteria.  Probiotic foods include:  fermented vegetables(sauerkraut, pickles, carrots, green beans, etc), kimchi, kambucha,  kefir and yogurt made from organic, whole milk.

Fermenting your own foods is a fairly straight-forward and simple process and can provide even greater savings.

See my blog for recipes:

Fermented Vegetables

More Recipes

If you must choose a probiotic supplement instead of fermented or cultured foods, look for a quality product that contains several species of live bacterial and also contains a pre-biotics(food for the bacteria)Inulin, Fructoolingosaccharides (FOS), Mannan Oligosaccharides (MOS), lactulose or trans-galactooligosaccharides.

Changing the way you view bacteria will help improve your health. Prebiotics and probiotics will help you obtain and maintain optimal health and fight chronic disease expressions.