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Continuing research is showing that the right mix of bacteria in your gut can protect you against Cancer, Arthritis, migraine and many diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Nothing has been scientifically proved so research continues. Wow, how do we improve our gut flora?
The Probiotic business, including drinks, dairy products and pills is now worth £25bl, so millions of us are keen to do something. Unfortunately due to our stomach’s high acidity most people are completely wasting their money as the good bacteria in commercial probiotics are killed before they reach the intestine where they are needed. Hence the capital REAL in our title above.
The big problem is that we need to get the good bacteria past the acid of our stomach and in to the last 20 feet of our digestive tract and colon. Then make sure there is good food for them to feed on, and thrive.
First some facts about the gut bacteria:
1. They are the complex community of microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts
2. There are 10 times more microbial cells in your body than human ones.
3. Good ones improve digestion as they break down the food in our gut, strengthen the immune system, and manufacture essential vitamins
6. Bad ones can cause digestion and mental problems as well as skin conditions
7. In the stomach and small intestine, relatively few species of bacteria are present, whereas the colon, contains between 300 and 1000 different species
8. It has been estimated that most people in the UK only have one third of the recommended microbes.
So what can tip the balance so that we have enough good microorganisms to keep us healthy?
First things to avoid:
1. Avoid antibiotics and meat with antibiotic residues that could kill our microbes
2. Avoid large intakes of alcohol, coffee and tea. They say that tea helped build the industrial revolution as the tannic acid in tea allowed new city populations to fend off microbe diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery
3. Avoid processed foods that do not feed the microbes lower in the intestine, including Sugar, white bread, gluten and processed oils
What to eat instead:
1. To feed existing microbes consume lots of natural fruit and veg that slowly break down all through the digestive tract and feed the good microbes, and us.
2. Eat fermented veg, like Kimchi and sauerkraut that contain naturally occurring good microbes and because they are inside the fibre of the veg may be protected from the stomach acid then thrive in the lower gut
It seems amazing that so many ailments could be cured by good gut bacteria yet there is so little documented scientific knowledge. It seems there are too many unknowns and the probiotic companies are delighted to carry on selling products that are not proven one way or the other!
My advice: make some fermented veg, blog here, and have a spoonful, or two, every day.