A balanced digestive flora is necessary to maintain regularity and proper nutrient absorption. But, it does so much more than just support your digestive tract. In fact, you may not realize how many different jobs the tiny bacteria that live in your digestive tract actually do. They work hard day and night to help maintain your positive mood, support your memory, and boost your immunity. To say they are helpful would be quite an understatement.
While there are trillions of bacteria living in your digestive tract, some are more helpful than others. An example of a “bad” bacteria strain includes E. coli, and an example of a “good” bacteria includes L. acidophilus. While all gut bacteria is technically “good,” some bugs are better than others. For optimal health, aim to keep the “bad” bacteria strains from flourishing by feeding the “good” bugs what they need to grow, so they outnumber the population of “bad” bugs in your GI tract. To know more please visit activatedyou.
Here are just three ways to get more “good” bugs, also known as probiotics, into your gut:
1. Swap Out Your Sour Cream
All of the homemade dips, spreads, and dressings that mom used to make still make your mouth water, right? Well, you can enjoy all of those homemade goodies, but without all of the calories, plus probiotic “good” gut bacteria, with one simple swap. Trade out sour cream in all of your favorite recipes with plain yogurt. It has a similar consistency, but at a fraction of the fat. It also includes protein, so it’s a healthier option all around. Plus, new studies show that eating yogurt can help boost your mood.
Try this swapped out recipe for ranch dip:
1 16-ounce container of Greek yogurt
1 packet dry ranch dip mix
¼ cup chopped green onions or ripe olives, rinsed and drained
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, and then blend together. Stir in onions (or olives) gently. Chill for at least one hour before serving. Dip any of your favorite vegetable slices into the ranch for heaping loads of “good” gut bugs.
2. Fabulous Fermentation
Fermented vegetables are a natural source of probiotic bacteria that can help keep your digestive flora balanced. You can purchase fermented vegetables in the store as kimchi (kim-chee), or, alternatively, you can make your own at home. DIY kimchi is easy to do, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare.
Try this simple at-home kimchi recipe:
Garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
Ginger root, peeled
A touch of honey to sweeten
Rinse all vegetables, peel if needed, and add together inside a small to medium-sized mixing bowl. Blend together. Add the remaining ingredients, secure the lid, and shake until completely blended. Place all of the ingredients inside a large glass jar and press down to fit as many vegetables inside as possible. Seal the lid.
Place the sealed jar inside cold storage to begin the fermentation process. Allow the jar to set for about 3-5 weeks, and up to 7 months.
3. Feed the “Good” Bugs
The “good” bugs that live inside your gut may be microscopic, but they eat too. Feeding them is a great way to speed up the growth of their populations, promoting a more balanced digestive flora. Add prebiotics to your diet. Prebiotics are food for the “good” gut bacteria. They include chicory root, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, asparagus, and bananas.
Remember that the “bad” bugs like to eat too. Here are some of their favorite foods: sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed, and fried foods. Avoid these foods to starve the “bad” bacteria, ensuring that the good bugs outnumber them in your GI tract.
In order to keep your gut health in check, you need to get enough of the “good” bugs back inside of your digestive tract – and then feed them, to keep them growing and happy. By adding plain yogurt to your diet (and substituting it wherever possible in recipes), consuming more fermented vegetables, and adding prebiotics foods to your diet, you can improve your digestive flora dramatically.