ENJOY GREAT GUT HEALTH! Step three: Re-inoculate for an optimal gut by Lindy Ford, RD, LDN, LOL contributor
We’re moving further down the gut-health road. Now that we’ve covered removing the bad and restoring digestive health (see previous LOL editions at www.livinoutloudmag.com), we’re ready to move on to re-inoculation.
What does that mean? The gut is made up of trillions of bacterial cells. A healthy gut—one that isn’t presenting with GI problems—has a lot more of the beneficial bacteria (remember the bacteriodetes?) than bad. Most of us are deficient in good bacteria, and we need to invite them back into our microbiome.
This may sound silly, but think of it this way: Picture your gut like a western town. When you have too many bad bacteria and not enough good, it’s like having too many outlaws and not enough sheriffs and deputies to keep law and order. When the bad guys are allowed to run rampant, they create mayhem. In your gut that mayhem translates to disease, mood problems, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain. This article is about inviting more law enforcement into our guts to create peace and intestinal law and order.
The first way to do this is by inviting foods that contain a host of beneficial bacteria. Here are a few foods that are helpful.
1. Sauerkraut: It does come in jars (organic is best), but you can find good sauerkraut in most any grocery store’s refrigerated section. This is the best way to consume. Kimchi, also called Korean sauerkraut, is spicier than traditional sauerkraut, but can be found in refrigerated sections of most health food stores.
2. Kefir: The fermented milk and can be found in most grocery stores. The problem with most of it is sugar, which negates its benefits. Buy unsweetened kefir.
3. Fermented vegetables: Many vegetables can be fermented. They are usually found in a health food store’s refrigerated section. Organic pickles and olives (depending on the brand) can have a lot of beneficial bacteria. I’ve also seen fermented vegetables sold at farmer’s markets.
4. Kombucha: Kombu what? This is a fermented drink that is normally refrigerated. Just make sure to choose one low in sugar and carbohydrates. They have a bunch of beneficial bacteria and come in different flavors. Kombucha is an acquired taste. I love the taste and try to drink at least one a week.
5. Yogurt: This can be good or bad depending on choice. Many commercial yogurts don’t have enough good bacteria to make is worth your while. Also, the sugar content just feeds the detrimental bacteria, so be oh-so careful. Higher fat (stay away from low fat), organic brands with low sugar content are best.
6. Apple cider vinegar: There are many health benefits of ACV. The brands that contain the most good bacteria are the organic, raw with “the mother.” It is murky sediment floating at the bottom. No, it hasn’t gone bad, but “the mother,” is the most important part because it contains gut-friendly bacteria and enzymes.
I know most readers have seen commercials on TV about the benefits of probiotics. Unfortunately, many probiotics don’t do much. Probiotics are complicated and it is best to work with a health-care professional when using them. There are certain strains that are more beneficial to specific GI conditions, and many of them are not potent enough.
A good probiotic should be refrigerated and contain at least 12 different strains. The CFU (colony forming units) should be high as well. I use several different ones in my practice. For more severe problems, I use one that contains 150 billion CFU and 40 different strains. Because of the research from NIH’s Human Microbiome Project and the American Gut Project, scientists have concluded the healthiest guts contain the most diverse microbiota (bacteria).
It’s time to allow fermented foods and high-potency probiotics repopulate our gut “towns.” Many of us have allowed the bad guys to create havoc for too long. Follow each step in this series and reap the rewards of a peaceful, law-abiding gut.
My next article will be the last in the gut-health series and will be on how we “repair” our guts.
“All my adult life has been a rollercoaster with my weight. I have tried about every diet plan known to man. I lost weight on these programs but eventually would gain it back, plus some. My cardiologist suggested I see Lindy.
“I started this journey overweight, pre-diabetic, high cholesterol and terrible gut health. Lindy set me up on a life-changing eating plan and provided me with natural supplements to assist me in gaining better overall health.
“My weight has dropped 32 pounds, and my energy level is where it was many years ago. I was able to reduce or stop taking several medications by this eating plan and natural protocol. Lindy’s plan is one I can stick to for the rest of my life.” —Marty F.
Lindy Ford, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian and licensed Nutritionist with Lindy Ford Nutrition & Wellness, LLC, Wilmington, NC. Website: lindyfordwellness.com; Phone: 910.899.7954
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