How do you get good bacteria into your body and why is it important? I am asked this question all the time –just last night someone asked me about sauerkraut and adding it to their meals.
Our microbiome is vitally important in our overall health – supporting our immune system and helping our gut perform at its best all the time.
Some communities of bacterial species in the gut have been associated with good health, others with any of a long list of conditions — including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, bowel disease and liver disease.
Unfortunately, from the day we are born, the good bacteria need to be nurtured in order to stay at optimum levels – and we unwittingly do so many things in our day to day lives that kill off or starve these good bacteria.
“The immune system undergoes major development during infancy and is highly related to the microbes that colonize the intestinal tract.” Josef Neu, MD & Jona Rushing, MD
It seems we are obsessed with ‘germs’… Even to the point of carrying anti-bacterial hand wash with us everywhere! Germs can be good for us – and this obsession can be doing more harm than good.
We pop pills, take antacids, eat sugar – tons of it every day – and generally eat too little in the way of whole foods containing necessary fibre & nutrients and eat way too much processed, packaged foods containing bad fats.
Phew… That’s a lot of things that we are doing that are maybe not so good for us! So what can we do to make a change, nurture our good gut bacteria and increase our health and well-being?
There is no easy answer to that – however, being aware is certainly a great place to start. Doing some of our own research and learning more about this subject – who has the time though, right?
Making change, as in everything in life, is best done by taking little steps and implementing small changes until we are comfortable and then can include other changes and creating new habits.
Cutting out the processed foods, take-aways and sugar is a good place to start – WHAAAT, I hear you saying! OK, maybe not all at once. But certainly all of these habits are not necessarily conducive to your overall health and to healthy and thriving good gut bacteria. So start with one thing this week by perhaps considering your shopping list a little more carefully, taking out the processed foods and putting in more whole foods; shopping at the greengrocer instead of the supermarket.
One thing to note though is that sugars feed the bad bacteria – so it is vital that we get our sugar consumption under control. Most of us consume our daily recommended allowance just at breakfast time. So read labels folks, and realise that sugar comes in various guises and names.
Then consider adding in some Kefir water or Kombucha – they are easy to include in your diet – a little like a fizzy drink but without all the chemicals and high amount of sugars. There are some great brands on the market now and available at most health stores and some cafes. Start with a small amount of Kefir water first thing in your day and build up to having a small glass. I normally choose Kombucha at a cafe if they have it, rather than a fizzy drink (which I never buy, by the way, and would choose plain or sparkling filtered water – never drink tap water, but that’s a subject for another day!).
Then there is a good quality yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Now these last two can be an acquired taste – but stick with it as they are awesomely wonderful for your gut! Just a small tablespoon added to your dinner is great and there are a number of different flavours on the market. Buy it from a health store in a jar – never in a can. Or, better still, make it yourself. Not something I have tried but there are good recipes on the internet.
Last but not least, a good quality yoghurt – but read the labels really carefully. Most today are low-fat and contain an overload of added sugars. You want full fat – especially for your growing kids. And no added sugar if possible. You can always add your own natural sweeteners in the way of fruits – berries, grated apple, passion fruit etc.
If you are dairy intolerant then try coconut yoghurt. It is really yummy – but again, watch out for added sugars. And it can be pricey. An idea would be to make your own – it is really easy. Here is a link to a recipe that is super easy and will make you lots of super tasty and gut beneficial yoghurt. Try it and I am pretty sure you will love it!!
If you are interested in this subject and knowing more, a great place to start is on Kale Brock’s website – oh my gosh he is amazing! I met him at a wellness conference in Australia last year and was completely enthralled – his knowledge is incredible! And his information, podcasts etc are really easy to follow –well, relative to most of the information out there anyway.
Good luck on your journey toward a better understanding of your gut health and microbiome – and on trying some of these initiatives. If you have any questions or want any help with making some of these changes, do get in contact. I am always happy to help.
021 634 451