Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last ten years you’ve heard of the importance of healthy bacteria. You can check off everything from better mood to a leaner waistline if the bacteria in your body are working for you. Here are ten steps to make sure you’re doing everything you can to promote the livelihood of beneficial bacteria for the most rewarding life.
#1: Eat Fermented Foods Regularly
Healthy bacteria are found naturally in yogurt and other fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, and cultured dairy products. Some studies show that regular consumption of these foods can improve gut health and convey benefits such as fat loss, better mood, and less inflammation.
#2: Supplement With Probiotics
Anyone who has been on a round of antibiotics or is exposed to the traditional western diet is unlikely to be able to get enough active live cultures from food alone. Even if you eat a healthy diet, you’re healthy bacteria are compromised from everyday realities like industrial farming, tap water, and alcohol consumption, making supplementation with a probiotic recommended.
#3: Ensure Quality When Choosing A Probiotic
There’s a huge variation in probiotic quality with many brands choosing to include probiotic strains that are the easiest to manufacture and package, not because they are good at establishing themselves in the gut. Pick a brand that includes at least 1 billion count of live bacteria. Many people need to start with a higher dose in the 25 to 50 billion count range, but once the gut bacteria begin to shift, a lower dose can be used.
#4: Check Good Manufacturing Practices
A key factor when choosing a probiotic is that the supplement you buy actually contains live microflora bacteria. Many products are only guaranteed at the time of manufacture, which means that the majority of bacteria may have died off by the time you get around to taking them. Instead, only buy probiotics that are guaranteed though the date of expiration.
#5: Get Prebiotics Too
A prebiotic differs from a probiotic in that it is a form of fiber that the healthy bacteria in your GI tract can feed on, allowing them to proliferate, which is key for an overall healthy microbiome. Prebiotics come from high-fiber foods such as bananas, potato starch, and oats. This is especially important for people who don’t eat grains or have a low-carb intake because you are at risk of being deficient in prebiotics.
#6: Take Resistant Starch
Resistant starch is a type of fiber (similar to prebiotics) that is resistant to digestion, feeding the healthy gut bacteria. When gut bacteria feed on resistant starch, they produce a short chain fatty acid called butyrate that is involved in promoting the health of the intestinal cell layer in the gut. Resistant starch is found when starchy foods like potatoes are rice are cooked and then cooled. You can also get it by supplementing with 20 to 30 grams of unmodified potato starch.
#7: Eat Plenty of Vegetables & Fruit
Besides providing resistant starch and prebiotics, plant foods contain phytonutrients that interact with the gut bacteria and have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Based on all we know about how beneficial exercise is for health it’s no surprise that people who train regularly have a more diverse microflora, which is associated with better health. Recent research shows that beyond burning calories, exercise actually encourages the growth of bacteria that is linked to leanness while suppressing other sorts that are associated with obesity.
#9: Avoid NSAIDS
NSAIDs restrict blood flow to the kidneys and damage the protective intestinal barrier, which has a negative effect on healthy bacteria. Two natural supplements that promote gut health and have an anti-inflammatory, pain killing effect are curcumin and boswellia.
In our culture it’s normal to scarf our food, but this habit has a harmful effect on your “good” gut bacteria. When large food particles hit your intestines, harmful gut bacteria feed on them, which leads to inflammation and deprives you of the nutrition. Try chewing each bite at least 15 times: You’ll benefit from a greater release of hunger reducing hormones and a healthier microbiome.