Did you know our gut (or gastrointestinal tract) is home to over 100 trillion live microorganisms?! And the majority of it is beneficial bacteria that protects us from infection, while regulating our metabolism and our mucosal immune system? In fact, the gut comprises more than 75% of our immune system!
Whoa -- we'll just let that sink in for a moment.
The good bacteria in our GI do a lot of wonderful things for us. They work extra-hard at fighting off harmful invaders that enter the body by both detoxifying them and then easing their elimination. A healthy proliferation of good bacteria, along with probiotics, also helps to maintain a balanced pH within our digestive tract; this is important because a lower pH prevents the metabolism of bile and cholesterol in the colon—which can become cancer-causing. Healthy bacteria can even lower serum cholesterol and your risk of cardiovascular disease. A healthy gut really is everything.
So what can you do to help support the proliferation of all that great bacteria?! Put the right things in your mouth, for starters.
Choose a good probiotic
Look for a probiotic that has 15 strains or more of beneficial bacteria with at least 30 billion CFU. That will ensure that you're getting a good variety and quantity to support the healthy bacteria. I like Preescript assist and Saccromyces Boulardi.
Eat probiotic-rich foods
Kimchi, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut and miso soup are all great options that have been proven to support the proliferation of good bacteria.
More microalgae, please
Microalgae such as spirulina, chorella, and blue-green algae increase the amount of good bacteria in the digestive tract. They are also super alkalizing, which as we learned above, helps to prevent heart disease and high cholesterol by way of healthy pH balance.
Watch your sugar
The average American consumes over 150 pounds of refined sugar annually. 150 pounds!! That refined sugar actually feeds bad bacteria and yeast in our digestive track, making it increasingly hard for the good bacteria to keep the peace. Excessive sugar consumption, along with other dietary and lifestyle factors can lead to an imbalance of bacteria and eventually autoimmune diseases such as churn's, celiac disease and many others.
Manage your stress
We all know that stress is a killer, but did you know that it can alter your microbiome as well? A recent study highlighted just how much so: The body's stress response can disrupt your gut in a number of ways including impacting nutrient absorption, decreasing oxygenations, restricting blood flow and lowering enzymatic output. When you look at those factors holistically, it's pretty clear how they can contribute to dysbiosis (microbial imbalance).