The human gastro-intestinal tract, also known as our gut, is undoubtedly, one of the most intriguing aspects of our body. The gut has many functions including digestion, absorption, even detoxification, but is also the powerhouse for storing our natural flora, specifically the gut flora which is made up of trillions of microorganisms, bacteria being the most prevalent. The function of the gut flora is so particular and relevant to the flow of our entire body, that they are considered by some an unspoken “organ” in and of their very presence. This should grab our attention to what is going on the in the gut and how we can work with it to proactively support our entire body.
The bacteria in our gut flora work with our immune system by stimulating lymphoid tissue to kill harmful bacteria. When we recognize that our immune system is in great part, occurring in our gut, what can we do to promote a stronger, more beneficial flora that will help us in fighting harmful bacteria? First thing we can do is look at our diet and what we are ingesting. Putting healthy bacteria into our system will not only build up our immunity and fight off harmful bacteria, but it will help aid in digestion. Foods naturally containing healthy bacteria or probiotics (Greek word meaning promoting life) include: yogurt, sauerkraut, dark chocolate, kefir (fermented dairy beverage similar to yogurt), miso soup (Japanese soup made from fermented soy beans), and tempeh (also fermented soybeans with rice) to name the most popular sources.
You can also purchase a large array of probiotics in natural health food stores and even in many generic drug and grocery stores. A lot of food companies are also fortifying foods with probiotics. Whatever your budget allows, I suggest making probiotics a part of your regular diet, even if it is just an all-natural yogurt several times a week.
When it comes to selecting a supplementation of, it is important to look for supplements that contain Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species such as L. acidphilus in the billions. Also a good probiotic supplement will also provide prebiotics, which stimulate the activity and growth of the probiotic.
Anytime you are taking antibiotics or having any kind of gut discomfort such as bloating or diarrhea, that is a good indication that your natural flora is off and should be aided with some healthy bacteria or probiotics. Please leave comments and suggestions of what you currently take, if any, and how you incorporate probiotics into your diet. I am sure this information will provide useful to those reading and interested in obtaining healthier flora.