Gut bacteria hold the key to health

Posted in Article on Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 10:06 am    4 Responses

“For each human cell in your body there are 10 microbial cells, most of them living in the gut and helping us digest things we can’t digest on our own,” said Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology¬† and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Each individual’s microbial ecosystem is different in its relative composition, with potential implications for our health. Disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer and even obesity have been linked to skewed intestinal microbe distributions.

What you eat is one of the main determinants of the community of bacteria living in your intestine. Refined carbohydrates and sugars tend to feed bad bacteria and yeasts, which in turn cause many health problems. Just think what happens when you add a teaspoon of sugar to some yeast in water when baking. It froths up to the top of the glass. This is a classic example of what may happen in the gut as a result of a poor diet.

Encouraging the proliferation of healthful good bacteria is absolutely vital to long term health. Including foods in your diet that contain inulin (onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes), will provide a substrate for good bacteria to feed on, helping them to colonize.

Gut bacteria are also arguably the largest detoxification system so supporting them to support you is absolutely essential. Not only that by the byproducts of their metabolism are often valuable nutrients for humans.

When it comes to health, the best place to start is with the gut and the bacteria that live in it. Without balance there, there is little chance of balance elsewhere.

4 Comments

  1. K Murphy August 12, 2010

    Does Yoghurt make any difference in balancing good bacteria?

  2. Hannah August 12, 2010

    Yoghurt will probably make little difference on its own if you have dysbiosis (an overgrowth of bad bacteria/ yeasts). If that’s the case you need a therapeutic probiotic. However, it’s always a good addition to your diet though.
    Check for the following things:
    1. That it is plain, organic, bio-live yoghurt
    2. That is is sugar-free (most fruit yoghurt and baby/kids yoghurts contain sugar which feeds bad bacteria)
    3. If it says fat-free, check to see what they’ve replaced the fat with. Most fat-free yoghurts contain either sugar or sweetener. If that’s the case, opt for low-fat.

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