Do you look after your bacteria?

Without healthy gut flora, our health would be in strife. So, how do you look after your bugs?

Do you look after your bacteria?

Do you know that we are more bacteria than we are cells? Bacteria lines every surface of the body that comes into contact with the outside world – such as the skin, breathing passages and our gut. It is the bacteria in our gut on to which I want to shed some light.

Healthy people carry around 1.5 – 2kg of bacteria in their digestive system. These healthy bacteria:

  • keep unhealthy bugs in check, so they don’t flourish and takeover
  • digest and absorb food
  • absorb and assimilate nutrients
  • protect you from absorbing toxins and undigested food particles
  • play a critical role in our immune health (about 80 per cent of our immune system is in the gut).

Without a healthy balance of gut flora, we are at risk of developing gut dysbiosis, which is a medical term used to describe microbial imbalance in the digestive tract. Research suggests that gut dysbiosis is associated with illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, cancer and colitis.

It seems that the great Greek physician Hippocrates was right when he once said that all disease begins in the gut. However, centuries later, it seems we haven’t paid attention to his wise words, because we still do many things that destroy the balance of our gut flora, such as repeated and inappropriate use of antibiotics, alcohol abuse and eating a diet of processed foods.

So, how can you look after your belly buddies? Well, they would like it if you:

  • ate wholefoods most of the time
  • regularly consumed fermented foods – such as homemade sauerkraut, kimchi, natural (unflavoured) yoghurt with live bugs, kombucha (fermented tea drink) and/or kefir milk
  • occasionally took a course of high-grade probiotics. Do your research and get professional advice. You can get good quality probiotics from health food and organic stores
  • didn’t take antibiotics for colds and minor health conditions where the body will otherwise recover quickly on its own –especially when no bacterial infection is involved (really, there’s no point).

We cannot live healthily without a healthy balance of gut flora. An accredited naturopath can help you replenish good gut flora if you need a helping hand.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    20th Nov 2015
    Be careful when buying yoghurt. There is a difference between "Greek" and "Greek Styled" yoghurt.
    22nd Nov 2015
    Reading the front of the container - it's all Greek to me. The NIP (nutrition info panel) gives it all away. "Greek" yoghurt is creamy because of 10% fat content vs ~4% for plain yoghurt.

    Once you move into "light" versions, pull a number between 10 and 0 - I like ~4% which gives just enough creaminess for my taste.

    These are often 'thickened' with inulin because removal of fat will give a runny consistency and it will then appear in the ingredients list. Inulin is a fibre and by definition is not digested. It's actually a polymer (chain) of fructose. It may undergo secondary fermentation by bacteria in the large bowel, releasing fructose. This in turn may rebound on individuals who have fructose intolerance eg those with symptoms of 'irritable' bowel.

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