According to health experts, our health is being profoundly affected by an ongoing bacterial war raging deep inside our gut.
Our body has 100 trillion bacteria in it, which live (mostly) in the gut with the surface area of a football field. Most experts say the optimal ratio is 85%:15% good to bad bacteria.
An excess of pathogenic bacteria has severe and widespread consequences for health. They create mold, putrefaction and release toxins into blood causing diarrhea, bloating, bad breath and even emotional problems, including depression. The liver has to work overtime to filter the toxins they make. Not only that - up to 80% of the immune system is in now believed to function in the gut, so immune function is also likely to be compromised.
On the other hand, having enough beneficial bacteria in the gut ensures proper nourishment, that foods are broken down and necessary macro- and micro-nutrients absorbed, vitamins B and K are made, minerals are extracted from the diet and retained, toxins do not damage the intestinal lining, colon cancer risk goes down and immunity is boosted. Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to ensure you have enough of the good bacteria in your system, simply by eating probiotic foods such as yogurt and soft cheese.
Antibiotics have dramatically changed the course of human history by lowering the incidence of many diseases to negligible levels. However, thanks to massive over-prescription and self-medication, today they actually act to damage health by eliminating most of the good bacteria with the bad.
Not only that - there are antibiotics in meats and dairy, non-organic foods are laced with pesticides and other chemicals and pollution is in the air. In other words, the environment is full of chemicals that threaten the well-being of gut probiotics - and by extension, our health as well.
A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: ‘Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.’ When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, ‘The one I feed the most.’”
Which dog do you feed regularly?
Probiotic bacteria thrive on soluble fiber, which reach the colon more or less intact. The standard recommendation is six grams a day. On the other hand, feeding pathogenic bacteria requires sugar and processed foods low in fiber.
So creating the right bacterial balance in the gut is very simple: consume quality probiotics, consume fiber-rich, fresh foods and cut out as much sugar and processed food as possible.
You can also help the probiotics in your body stay on top by regular consumption of fermented foods including pickled vegetables, tempeh and fermented milk products like kefir or yogurt, natto and kimchi.
And while it would be ideal to get all the probiotics and the food they thrive on from the diet, that may not always be feasible - in which case quality probiotic supplements are invaluable.
So why not consult a dietician or nutritionist and start feeding your ‘good dog’ today?