Why our gut bacteria is important
Our gut protects us from toxins, viruses and bad bacteria. Lots of bacteria live in our gut. We have them from the time we are born. They can be good or bad. The good ones help you digest foods. They also make substances that keep us happy and calm. They make B vitamins that we need for our nervous system. The bad ones, on the other hand, cause digestive problems. They can give us diarrhea or worse. Some experts think that the bad ones cause many diseases. As we get older, we often have more bad bacteria than is healthy.
Ensuring that you have a lot of good bacteria will get rid of the bad ones. Foods such as yogurt are full of good bacteria. These foods are called “probiotic.”. Look for “active” or “live” culture on the food label. Other sources include kefir (a yogurt drink), sauerkraut, kimchi (a Korean fermented cabbage dish), and apple cider vinegar.
Prebiotics are food for our good bacteria. They live on a type of fiber in fruits, vegetables, and beans. When you eat these, you are feeding a healthy gut. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables also lowers your risk of heart disease. Your salad is a great place to start. Having green smoothies a few times a week is another way to benefit. Juicing may not work, however, as it takes out the fiber.
The best sources of prebiotics are:
- Onions and leeks
- Jicama (a root vegetable best peeled, diced into strips and eaten in salad or sprinkled with lime and chili powder)
- Psyllium (in brands like Konsyl and Metamucil)