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Recently the interest in gut health has really taken off, as it’s now clear that the type and quality of micro organisms in your gut interact with your body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of many illnesses.
There are about 100 trillion (approximately 3kg) of bacteria in your gut, which is more than 10 times the number of cells in your entire body! The ideal ratio between good to bad bacteria in the gut should be about 80% good to 20% bad. Unfortunately this ratio is more often the other way around for most people these days due to modern western living, a standard western diet, alcohol, stress and daily toxins.
This is important to note as 80% of our immune system is located in our gut. Proper food choices such as a raw food diet can begin to shift the balance and consuming good bacteria in concentrated form either via fermented foods or supplements is also essential to correct and maintain optimal gut flora.
The vital functions of good bacteria:
- Assistance in digestion – breaks down food so its easily absorbed, interesting to note that fibre needs to be digested by good bacteria, as we do not produce enough of the enzyme cellulase to break it down. A great reason to keep your good bacteria happy!
- Producing vitamins, absorbing minerals – a by-product of our good bacteria’s activity is the production of vitamin K and certain B Group vitamins such as the super important vitamin B12.
- Breaks down toxins
- Acts as first line of immune defence – beneficial bacteria can actually train the immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non harmful antigens and to respond appropriately thus preventing allergies. Cool huh?!
- Keeps bad bacteria under control & keeps the intestinal walls healthy.
- Acts to “clean up” the intestinal environment of undigested food and mucus lining the intestinal wall. They also produce fatty acids as a by-product of their activity which helps nourish, repair and heal.
- Serves a vital link to neurological development and maintenance of healthy mental state. During our development – our gut and brain are one and the same and its only in later stages of growth before birth that the two separate. So good gut flora = good moods and happy shiny people.
What are the signs of poor gut flora?
- Gas and bloating
- Cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Headaches and fatigue – pathogenic microflora produce toxic residues which damage the delicate intestinal wall, candida albicans a yeast which easily overgrows due to bad diet, sugar, prescription drugs, drinking chlorinated water or consuming conventional foods coated in pesticides also punches holes into the intestinal wall.
All of this further leads to toxicity leaking out of the gut which effects metabolism, stresses the detox pathways and lowers oxygen levels etc.
- Constipation, Diarrhea, IBS – good bacteria has a vitally important role in healthy stool formation as it helps put together the main components of dead bacteria, discarded cells and food residue. It then helps coat the stool with mucus that assists in it’s passage out of the body.
- Diarrhea stems from poor immune response to digestion to which gut flora plays a role. IBS again has direct physical correlation to the state of digestion and due to it’s link to stress also crosses into the gut / mind sphere (referred to above).
You may also like: How To Stop Diarrhea Quickly With Coffee Enemas
How to optimise your gut flora:
- Create a clean environment for good bacteria to live and colonise in. Start with a course of colonics and do weekly enemas at home.
- Consume unpasteurised fermented foods, daily. This could be sauerkraut, coconut yoghurt, coconut kefir or kombucha.
- Take high dose, multi-strain probiotics daily.
- Consume more raw, organic produce. Beneficial microflora thrive on a diversity of fermentable substrates (fiber). Not all fiber is the same though so consuming a diversity of whole plants will ensure a steady flow of substrates for your resident microflora.
- Consider meditation or yoga to help relieve stress. I believe stress is the modern day plague as our bodies are all under a lot more stress than we were ever designed to manage on a daily basis. Stress also kills good bacteria.
Organically grown food is teeming with trillions of beneficial microbes living on the plants and in the soil. When consumed raw, even after washing, some of these microbes enter and populate our own gut and help reacquaint your immune system with the benefits they bring.
So you can see how easy it is to keep your gut flora optimised simply by making a few adjustments to your diet and lifestyle and you will be well on your way to being healthy and happy every day!
If you would like to know more we run regular fermenting workshops and raw food workshops, simply head here and check out what we do!
Much raw love