What are Gut Bacteria and what do they do?
Gut bacteria are the bacteria that live in the gut (gastrointestinal tract). There are around 100 trillion “good” and “bad” bacteria living in the gut. Gut bacteria play an important role in the overall health of its host. For example, gut bacteria help its host maintain homeostasis and protect against pathogens. On the contrary, the reduction of microbial diversity, known as dysbiosis, can lead to a variety of chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Good Gut Bacteria vs. Bad Gut Bacteria
While bacteria typically get a bad rap, not all bacteria are bad. Good bacteria help absorb nutrients, digest food, and produce vitamins, among other things. Good bacteria can also help ward off diseases. Bad bacteria have the opposite effects.
How do I increase Good Bacteria and Starve Bad Gut Bacteria?
One of the best ways to increase good bacteria in the gut is to take probiotics. Probiotics are made of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. The most common bacteria found in probiotics are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. The most common yeast found in probiotics is Saccharomyces boulardii. Consuming probiotics, especially probiotics customized for your microbiome health and/or unprocessed foods containing probiotics can help restore good bacteria in the gut.
What Foods are Good for my Gut Bacteria?
Foods that are high in probiotics increase good bacteria in the gut. Fermented foods such as cottage cheese, kimchi, miso soup, pickles, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, and tempeh are good sources of probiotics. Fermented drinks such as kefir yogurt (fermented dairy drink) and kombucha (fermented tea) are also good sources of probiotics. Apart from food and drinks, dietary supplements can introduce probiotics into your diet.