Bacteria usually get a bad rap, but they're truly a digestive system's best friend. A healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut keep you feeling great. Throw off the balance and you suffer some nasty consequences. These days, a number of factors: stress, poor diet - even antibiotics - can deplete the good bacteria in your intestines and cause a host of inconvenient problems, from irregularity to sickness. Sometimes, you can't help depleting your good bacteria stores. But a number of strategies can help you easily get those good bacteria back in action.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Whole grains
- Lean protein
- Low-fat dairy products
- Yoghurt, miso, tempeh, or kefir
- Probiotic supplements
- Vitamin supplements
Balance your diet. A good daily diet follows a rule of thirds: no more than one third of your daily calories coming from each of the following -- carbohydrates, protein and fats. Get 25 to 30 grams of fibre each day from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Get your proteins from lean cuts of meat, beans and nuts. If you can, incorporate low-fat dairy for calcium and added protein. Stock up on good monounsaturated fats found in foods such as olive oil and avocados.
Revamp your eating habits. Try eating smaller, more frequent meals to go a little easier on your digestive system and promote healthy digestion. Avoid sugary foods, as these foods can irritate your intestines.
Get your probiotics, live microorganisms that help promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut, from a natural source. Foods that contain probiotics include yoghurt, tempeh, miso or kefir (Greek-style milk). Make sure the label states "contains live active cultures."
If natural methods don't work. ask your doctor about probiotic and/or vitamin supplements. You may benefit from a course of probiotics or vitamins to help your gastrointestinal system heal enough to accept the natural foods that normally keep bad bacteria at bay.
Growing Good Bacteria
Tips and warnings
- Try to get probiotics and vitamins from natural sources before trying supplements. This helps ensure your diet contains enough nutrient-rich foods and keeps empty calories to a minimum.
- Always consult your doctor first about gastrointestinal issues to make sure the problems are caused by a need for more good bacteria and not a more serious gastrointestinal issue.
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