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What's in your gut?

Jun 30, 2014

No, I'm not talking about FAT, even though most of us have a little of that hanging around the middle that we'd like to get rid of! What I am talking about when I mention your "gut" are those friendly bacteria that populate your intestines that help to keep you healthy and your immune system functioning optimally.

In our guts we have a couple of types of inhabitants: good bacteria and bad bacteria. We will always have both. The goal is simply to let the good bacteria out number the bad. You've seen all of the latest buzz about probiotics and all sorts of supplements advertised to help increase your healthy good bacteria, right? But, did you know there are other things you can do to increase those little buggers through diet along?

Here we go...

  1. Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi. Try learning how to make your own and you'll be headed to gut flora glory!
  2. Eat foods with polyphenols. Try adding blueberries or green tea to your diet. The good bacteria consume the molecular bonds holding these items together, making them stronger and allowing them to proliferate.
  3. Eat dark chocolate...just not too much! Dark chocolate (atleast 80%, but the higher the better!) falls under "polyphenols" and offers fermentable fiber. Both of these provide "food" for good bacteria. And it's a good excuse to enjoy some chocolate!
  4. Eat pistachios...but don't go nuts. Include these little green guys in your diet to increase prebiotic power. Prebiotics are simply "meals" for good bacteria.
  5. Eat foods with resistant starch. Resistant starch cannot be digested by humans, but good bacteria can!
  6. Increase your Vitamin D status. Get some sunshine or supplement if you need to. Higher vitamin D levels show lower levels of gut dysbiosis (an imbalance in gut bacteria that causes decreased immune system function).
  7. Exercise...of course! Healthy, appropriate exercise is compatible with healthy levels of good gut bacteria. However, too much exercise combined with poor nutrition and not enough rest will lead to an imbalance in gut flora and decreased immunity.
  8. Eat a variety of foods. Just like we get bored, so do the little guys in our guts. Eat enough variety to expose you and your bacteria to lots of color and nutrients. Keep some staple foods in place, though, and be consistent!
  9. Don't go into antibiotic overkill! Antibiotics wipe out bad bacteria...but they take the good guys with it! If you can, try to treat symptoms without the use of antibiotics, and consult with your physician about what you can do instead.
  10. Give it time! Most of us have at least a small imbalance in our guts. Just like anything worth having in life, developing a healthy gut takes time. You may feel poorly at first when you're starting a program to get in balance. Be patient and stick to your new healthy habits.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call. I'll do what I can to help you learn!

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