Did you know that you are barely human? Only one-tenth of the genetic material inside of you is human! The rest consists of bacteria, or flora, living on your skin, in your mouth, in your gut, and three pounds of flora in your intestines. I promise – even if it sounds gross, this is a good thing.
The word “bacteria” typically elicits a negative response, but it’s this bacterium that comprises much of our genetic material and rules our genetic expression, moods, hormones, and immune system!
The role of gut flora is so diverse that we’re just exploring the tip of the iceberg. What we do know is that they produce some vital short-chain fatty acids and vitamins, break down hormones, and protect against evil invaders. They also aid in breaking down food into usable components.
Did you think your stomach did all the digesting of food? Think again. It’s actually the good bugs or bacteria breaking down your food after you swallow. Have you ever heard rumbling down there? It’s the bugs fermenting insoluble fiber, which produces valuable components and feeds the bugs themselves.
Compromised Gut Flora: Compromised Health
The template for our gut flora is actually established in the first year of life, and it stays with us for life.
Unfortunately, with premature introductions to solid foods (before the first tooth) and lack of breastfeeding, our country’s gut flora has been under an unprecedented assault over the last 70 years.
The development of experimental, fake foods, hybridization and packaging of “convenience” foods, the addition of chemicals and artificial food colors, and the long shipping distances have amplified the damage to our already compromised guts even more!
Add to that an increased volume of food consumption, antibiotics and medications, lack of exercise and pollution, and we’ve got ourselves a dangerous formula for altering the great biodiversity of our gut flora.
Our ally in good health is being changed permanently for the worse, and our human potential is being lost.
The ramifications of this are a loss of brain and physical health at great cost to thriving health both individually and collectively as a nation.
Symptoms are being covered up by medications, and we’re essentially becoming walking robots.
In order to gain our health back, it starts with restoring our guts with bacteria to work for us, not against us.
A Formula for Restoring the “Good Bugs”
At DBC, the staple ways that we help patients’ gut flora to thrive are as follows:
1) Remove offending foods and decrease inflammation.
Remove offending foods as I explain here
, including gluten
I also recommend a product called Max EPA, which is a potent fish oil
to help reduce inflammation. Glutagenics is another fantastic anti-inflammtory gut product, complete with L-glutamine, aloe vera, and deglycyrrhizinated licorice, which have a tremendous healing effect on the mucosal wall of the gut.
2) Consume and/or supplement with probiotics.
Probiotics, or gut bacteria, improve the balance of intestinal gut flora, enhance immunity, decrease inflammation, prevent infections, and may protect against certain cancers. They also improve digestive function.
Eating fermented foods, which have thousands of years of experimentation and efficacy behind them, are a great way to boost your intake of probiotics. Examples include sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Watch the sugar content with kombucha, though, because some brands can have upwards of 25 grams!
I also recommend a multi-strand probiotic, but be careful about which brand you choose, because American consumers are being ripped off by bad products that have not been tested, and by multiple false claims which may harm the consumer.
I became extremely selective about probiotics, because in my most recent scientific analysis, I checked thirteen different brands and only two were viable. Therefore, I always recommend probiotics in Nature’s Remedies that have been clinically trialed, scientifically proven
to work (like the NCFM strain), and have live cultures after bottling. Brands that I like to use include Ultra Flora Children's, Ultra Flora Balance, and Ultra Flora Spectrum. Each has a different mix of probiotics which I recommend based on each person's individual needs.
3) Eat prebiotics.
Prebiotics are non-digestible oligosaccharides, or several sugar molecules linked together, and consuming them feeds and nourishes our probiotic bacteria.
A DIVERSE diet that is mostly plant-based is the best way to boost prebiotic consumption.
In fact, there is no single plant that is best; biodiversity feeds our biodiversity of gut flora. Therefore, do not get hung up on one “superfood.” We need the diversity!
4) Boost your bugs with fiber.
I typically recommend a fiber from Nature’s Remedies called Endefen to feed colonic bacteria and promote gastric mucosal cellular repair. Endefen specifically consists of very bio-diverse fibers made from many different plants to assist in this action.
In fact, I like to call it my sleeping giant, because it improves so many different health aspects from malnourishment to autoimmune diseases and hot flashes, etc.!
5) For those over 50 years of age, supplement with an enzyme to help digestion.
As we age, our gut flora and hydrochloric acid, both crucial to the proper breakdown of our food, are more likely to be compromised.
For middle-aged, elderly, and gastric reflux patients, I recommend a Nature’s Remedies product called Metagest, which gives digestive assistance to help in this process.
Just as our gut flora is very broad and diverse, the topic of gut flora is absolutely huge, so I update myself every month to keep abreast of the latest research. The most current research comes from Belgium and my home country, the Netherlands, and I will keep you updated on future developments as they occur!