Eat Your Bacteria
Our bodies are the host of trillions of good and bad bacteria, primarily in our guts.Yes, bacteria such as those from the genera Bifido-bacterium and Lactobacillus, account for a large majority of the 100 trillion microscopic creatures that call your body home. Good bacteria are a big part of our immune system as they remove pathogens, keep bad bacteria in check, enhances digestion and absorption of nutrients and produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin than does the brain.
However, our modern chemical culture has declared war on all bacteria by producing an arsenal of chemical compounds to destroy all types of microorganism. We try and sanitize everything and keep our children away from any bacteria good or bad beginning at birth. This inhibits development of strong digestive and immune systems. It’s ironic that these same chemical that are supposed to protect our health are actually doing more harm than any bacteria.
Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine was quoted as saying “All disease begins in the gut.” Our modern food industry has effectively managed to pasteurize, irradiate, and process out any naturally occurring beneficial bacteria in our foods while at the same time feeding harmful bacteria with a feast of processed starches and sugars.
The results of this chemical warfare is now illustrated by the rise of a multitude of digestive problems like IBS, Crohn’s disease, Celiac Disease, colitis, allergies, etc., that are affecting millions of Americans.
How to avoid depleting your beneficial bacteria
Avoid the use of antibiotics unless you have a life threatening infection.
Do not use anti bacterial soap.
Replace harsh chemical cleaning products with natural bio degradable ones.
Avoid highly refined, processed food products with chemical additives
Limit your consumption of simple sugars and starches that contribute to the over growth of harmful yeasts, parasites and fungi in the body.
Reducing stress is an important factor here as well as excess stress can damage the gut’s flora by slowing the body’s ability to heal tiny fissures in the intestinal lining. Bacteria sneak through the openings and settle inside the gut’s walls where they cause inflammation which can speed up or slow down the contractions in the small intestine, affecting the rate food moves through your system.
How to build up friendly bacteria in your digestive system
Eat a diet primarily of whole, organic foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and healthy animal products that will help support culturing of beneficial bacteria that feed on certain types of fiber and healthy fats.
Consume Fermented Foods and Drinks- Foods like Sauerkraut, Kimichi, Miso, Tempeh, Fermented Salsa, Fermented Veggies, Natural Yogurt, Kefir, Naturally Aged Cheeses are natural sources of probiotics and eating a variety of these will help get in all the beneficial strains of bacteria. Cultured fermented drinks like kombucha also provide probiotics.
Take probiotic supplements. Probiotics are bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines . The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt with live cultures, is the best known. Yeast is also a probiotic substance.
Fermentation in food processing is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. The term “fermentation” is sometimes used to specifically refer to the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol, a process which is used to produce alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, and cider.
Fermented foods are literally predigested by microorganisms as in the leavening of bread (CO2 produced by yeast activity); the protein in soy beans is digested into amino acids and lactose is broken down in dairy products. Fermentation is a preservation technique that produces lactic acid in sour foods such as sauerkraut, dry sausages, kimchi, and yogurt; and in pickling of foods with vinegar (acetic acid).
Since ancient times, humans have been controlling the fermentation process. The earliest evidence of an alcoholic beverage, made from fruit, rice, and honey, dates from 7000–6600 BCE, in the Neolithic Chinese village of Jihad and winemaking dates from 6000 BCE, in Georgia, in the Caucasus area. Seven-thousand-year-old jars containing the remains of wine have been excavated in the Zagros Mountains in Iran, which are now on display at the University of Pennsylvania. There is strong evidence that people were fermenting beverages in Babylon circa 3000 BC, ancient Egypt circa 3150 BC, pre-Hispanic Mexico circa 2000 BC, and Sudan circa 1500 BC.
Fermentation usually implies that the action of microorganisms is desirable because many of their metabolic byproducts are known to be medicinal. Isothiocyanates in sauerkraut are regarded as anti-carcinogenic and nattokinase from fermented soy beans is a natural blood thinner and can dissolve blood clods.
Three Common Fermented Foods
Raw kefir has 50+ friendly beneficial bacteria and yeasts. They aid in digestion, reduce inflammation and improve elimination to mention a few. It is a fermented milk drink made from kefir grains and can be made at home.
Is a lightly effervescent fermented drink of sweetened black tea that is used as a functional food. It is produced by fermenting the tea using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or “SCOBY”. This also can be made from a variety of teas and foods. It is known to be a detoxifying elixir for the liver, kidneys and bowels.
Raw cultured vegetables are powerful super foods and include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and many others. In the past fermented vegetables were used as a way to prevent spoilage in food. There is a significant difference between the foods eaten today such as pickles and sauerkraut that have been pasteurized. Pasteurization destroys the many strains of the health promoting bacteria and naturally occurring enzymes that have the many healing benefits.These foods are so powerful that in Asia, they fed an extract of kimchi, a fermented food, to infected chickens with the bird flu and within a week they began to recover.
The oldest microorganisms on earth, bacteria have established an evolutionary haven for themselves inside our bodies. Bacteria and humans have a mutually beneficially synergetic partnership going. So balancing our intestinal microflora with fermented foods should be a top priority.