The microbiome is essential for immunity. The human body houses more than 100 trillion bacteria, which is more than ten times the number of human cells in the entire body. With this vast quantity of bacteria living inside us, we have to have the right balance of beneficial bacteria to promote immunity.
The amount and type of microorganisms in the digestive tract interact with the body in a way that can either boost or deplete immunity. Ideally, the gut should have a minimum of 85% beneficial bacteria and 15% or less harmful bacteria.
Research has found that the digestive system is responsible for 80% of the body’s resistance to pathogens. Not only does the immune system rely on digestion for support, but moods and mental wellbeing also depend on digestive health. The gut produces the majority of the serotonin, which is why some health officials refer to the stomach as the second brain(1).
Lowered immunity and depression are indicators of poor digestive health. The brain develops from the same fetal tissues as the gastrointestinal tract. One part forms the central nervous system, and the other grows into the enteric nervous system found in the gut. The vagus nerve runs down from the brainstem directly into the abdomen, providing a direct link for intestinal health and mental wellbeing. This link explains the connection between neurological disorders and digestive health.
Dietary strategies For the better Functioning of Digestive system
There are a few simple dietary strategies we can incorporate to optimize the functioning of the digestive system and improve overall health. Eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates, increasing intake of organic vegetables, and supplementing with probiotics is an excellent place to start. Simple sugars promote the growth of yeast, fungi, and other harmful bacteria.
Sugar is the substance that feeds these malevolent entities, so by eliminating sugar from the diet, it starves off harmful bacteria that reside in the digestive system. To successfully eliminate sugar from the diet, be sure to read the nutritional fact labels. Avoid foods advertised as low-fat.
Manufactures replace fat with sugar, which is not only harmful to the body, but it adds empty calories. It can exacerbate problems such as obesity, diabetes, depression, and heart disease. Other factors that disrupt digestive flora include antibacterial soaps, fluoridated water, chlorine, and antibiotics. Antibiotics not only come from prescriptions but livestock that receives antibiotics. To avoid antibiotics in the food chain, always buy organic meat, dairy, and animal products.
Fresh organic vegetables should be added to the diet to promote good health in the digestive tract. Vegetables contain prebiotic fibers and sources of nutrients when digested and metabolized it feeds the good bacteria. Through metabolic processing of vegetables, the body produces by-products that help to eliminate harmful bacteria. It is also essential to choose organic produce. Produce treated with pesticides and other chemicals will naturally contain chemicals. When ingested, those chemicals destroy good bacteria in the digestive system.
The standard American diet is lacking in fermented foods, which are an excellent addition to help restore beneficial bacteria in the gut. Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso increase the number of beneficial bacteria. Kimchi is spicy fermented red cabbage found in Korean dishes. It is served as condiment or side, mixed with noodles or rice. Koreans typically consume 40 pounds of kimchi per person annually.
Some other fermented options include pickled and fermented vegetables such as cabbage, cucumbers, turnips, green beans, beets, or carrots. Fermented foods also make wonderful chelators and can help you to flush a wide variety of heavy metals and toxins from the body; only a small amount of fermented foods such as 1/3 of a cup daily need to be consumed to help restore the belly. Beneficial bacteria are in fermented drinks such as kombucha or kraut juice.
Contrary to popular belief, commercial yogurts and kefir are not as healthy as advertised.
Most of these products contain high amounts of sugar and artificial sweeteners, which promote the growth of harmful bacteria. Besides, the number of beneficial bacteria that are cultured into it is usually trivial. It has a short shelf life, so by the time the product enters the body, there may only be trace amounts or no probiotics at all. If one would like to consume yogurt, purchase raw organic milk along with culture and make it at home or find it from a local fresh, organic source.
Probiotics are crucial for those who do not want to consume fermented foods. Some probiotics come with an enteric coating. The enteric coating allows the probiotic to pass through the acidic environment of the stomach. Still, enteric-coated probiotics can be quite costly. To save a few bucks, look for a probiotic supplement that has bio acid-resistant strains such as Lactobacillus Plantarum and Bifidobacterium lactis. These strains will survive the journey to the intestines and cost much less.
Probiotics should be taken on an empty stomach, preferably about 15 minutes before a meal, because the acidity in the stomach is closer to neutral making it a less hostile environment. Probiotics should also be free of dairy, wheat, GMOs, fillers, gluten, caking agents, and contain all human strains of bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1.
Probiotics are essential for digestion and assimilation of important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Probiotics also help the body produce non-essential vitamins and eliminate toxins. More than 200 studies have linked probiotics to more than 170 diseases and health problems, including eczema, herpes, food allergies, liver diseases, acne, behavioral disorders, colds, chronic fatigue syndrome, and high cholesterol. Common signs that the digestive flora may be out of balance include fatigue, gas, bloating, headaches, constipation, sugar cravings, nausea, and diarrhea.
Tips for Balancing Digestive Flora
- Eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Increase your intake of non-starchy, organic vegetables, 6-8 daily servings.
- Include daily fermented foods.
- Eat a small slice of ginger, with salt and lemon before a meal to increase digestive strength.
- Probiotics are also essential for those who do not want to consume fermented foods.
Choosing Best Probiotics
- Purchase a probiotic supplement that has bio acid-resistant strains such as Lactobacillus Plantarum and Bifidobacterium lactis, which will survive the journey to the intestines and cost much less.
- Make sure the supplement contains all human strains of bacteria:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1.
- Bifidobacterium Longum
- Lactobacillus Plantarum
- Lactobacillus Brevis
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Probiotics should be taken on an empty stomach, preferably about 15 minutes before a meal, because the acidity is closer to neutral making it a less hostile environment.
- Check the label to make sure it is free of fillers such as dairy, wheat, GMOs, fillers, gluten, caking agents, etc.
- Should include 15 billion bacteria.
About the Author
Dr. Jackie Christensen committed to using a wide variety of healing modalities and lifestyle options to help people utilize their internal resources, begin the healing process, and strengthen the mind, body, spirit connection.