Five Steps to Healthy Gut Flora

Back in the old days (and that was only ten or at most twen­ty years ago) life was sim­ple: germs were bad.

Now we know how ben­e­fi­cial gut bac­te­ria can be – they help you digest your food, pro­tect your body from tox­ic chem­i­cals, boost your immune sys­tem, and reg­u­late the hor­mones that con­trol your appetite, metab­o­lism, and mood.

Healthy colonies of intesti­nal flo­ra play a role in weight loss, bloat­ing, irri­ta­ble bow­el, ulcers, depres­sion, fibromyal­gia, aller­gies, and more.

Here are the five most impor­tant strate­gies you can use to ensure the health of the neigh­bors in your diges­tive tract.

Num­ber One: Avoid unnec­es­sary antibi­otics.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water by skip­ping antibi­otics alto­geth­er – used prop­er­ly, antibi­otics can save your life.  But in one third or more of cas­es, a pre­scrip­tion for antibi­otics is giv­en inap­pro­pri­ate­ly – when it’s unlike­ly to do any good and can actu­al­ly do harm.

Be a smart health care con­sumer — don’t insist on an antibi­ot­ic pre­scrip­tion if your doc­tor doesn’t think you need it.  And even if your doc­tor does sug­gest an antibi­ot­ic – ask ques­tions.

Num­ber Two: Avoid meat laced with antibi­otics.

The sad truth is that most of the antibi­otics used in this coun­try are fed to cows, not used med­ical­ly in humans.  Antibi­otics make cows fat­ter but they mess up the bal­ance of nature, includ­ing the bal­ance in your intestines.

Meat is part of a healthy diet. But don’t mess it up — choose grass-fed beef raised with­out antibi­otics.

Num­ber Three: Eat a vari­ety of fer­ment­ed foods.

Cul­tures around the world have dis­cov­ered the nutri­tion­al – and culi­nary – val­ue of fer­ment­ed foods that con­tain live cul­tures of health­ful bac­te­ria.

Some of my favorites include kim­chi (Kore­an-style pick­led veg­eta­bles), kom­bucha (fer­ment­ed tea), yogurt with live cul­tures, or good old fash­ioned sauer­kraut (though skip the ball­park frank that some­times comes with it).

Late­ly, I’ve also been enjoy­ing a morn­ing health jolt of two table­spoons of unpas­teur­ized, unfil­tered apple cider vine­gar stirred into a glass of water.  It’s sup­posed to be good for blood pres­sure con­trol too (but don’t stop tak­ing need­ed blood pres­sure med­i­cine based on rumor.)

Num­ber Four: Pro­bi­ot­ic sup­ple­ments.

Tak­ing pro­bi­ot­ic sup­ple­ments is a good way to make sure your intesti­nal tract is col­o­nized by a healthy mix of bac­te­ria.

Most pro­bi­ot­ic sup­ple­ments include bac­te­r­i­al species that thrive in fer­ment­ed milk (i.e. lac­to­bacil­lus vari­eties.)  But I favor a pro­bi­ot­ic that is derived from species liv­ing in soil.

Num­ber Five: Pre-biot­ic sup­ple­ments.

Pre­bi­ot­ic sup­ple­ments add anoth­er dimen­sion to the care and feed­ing of your intesti­nal flo­ra.  Pre­bi­ot­ic sup­ple­ments con­tain the kinds of foods that friend­ly bac­te­ria like to eat – long, com­plex chains of car­bo­hy­drates.

Five sim­ple steps — a life­time of good health.

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About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website, askdrlavine.com, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at drlavine@yourbodyofknowledge.com or at 212-400-9663.

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