If you’ve spent any time in the yogurt section of your local supermarket lately, you might see more and more products that highlight their “live active cultures”—a nice way of saying that the yogurt is full of bacteria.
While the idea of consuming bacteria in the diet may not sound appealing, probiotic bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented dairy products can promote digestive health.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain the proper balance of the microorganisms (called flora) that live in your digestive tract. Your digestive system is home to hundreds of types of probiotics, and these helpful bacteria keep the growth of other, potentially harmful, bacteria at bay—thus promoting healthy digestion.
The bacteria in your system also help to break down foods that are resistant to normal digestion, allowing you to obtain more nutrients from your foods. In the process, gas is produced. But we have other gas-guzzling bacteria that keep its production in check. So, a healthy balance of these various intestinal ‘bugs’ is key to a well-functioning digestive tract.
One of the most common strains of probiotic bacteria that reside in your intestines is Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is found in yogurt. When you eat yogurt that has ‘active, live cultures’ (the label will tell you), you can be assured that you are consuming this healthy probiotic.
REMOVE: Start by getting rid of the food and toxins that stress your system and sustain unhealthy bacteria. This means limiting sugar, processed foods, animal fats and animal protein.
REPAIR: To begin to repair your gut and heal damaged intestinal lining, eat a fibre-rich, wholefoods diet and make sure you’re getting stuck into heaps of beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, all of which feed good bacteria.
RESTORE: To help restore your gut flora, there are some simple steps you can take:
- Take a high quality, multi-species probiotic which will provide live strains of good bacteria and help bolster your defenses.
- Consider taking quality fish oil to help reduce inflammation of your gut. If you can stand the taste, liquid rather than capsule is best.
- Include lots of PH balancing or alkaline foods in your diet. Kale, spinach, broccoli, wheat grass, parsley, spirulina…basically anything green gets the thumbs up and is great at keeping stomach acid levels in order.