Three Ways to Boost Beneficial Bacteria in Your Gut
Probiotics have rapidly become one of the most popular supplements in the US (and across the globe). According to a 2012 government survey, 4 million Americans took probiotics in the last 30 days. Back then, it was the third most commonly used dietary supplement after vitamins and minerals.
Considering how much research on beneficial bacteria in the microbiome has taken off in the past decade, those numbers are most certainly even higher today. In fact, promising research continues to be released all the time about the multiple ways the beneficial bacteria in our bodies impact us daily—from immune, skin, and digestive health to prevention of countless diseases.
Even better, boosting these bacteria isn’t all that difficult. And with consistency, your health can drastically improve thanks to the positive changes you make in your microbiome.
With that said, there are three simple and reliable things you can do to promote a robust gut microbiome…
#1: Eat More Fermented Foods
Adding fermented foods is an excellent way to boost the friendly bacteria in your gut. Fermentation is nothing new. In fact, people have been fermenting foods for millennia as a way to preserve and prevent spoilage.
Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) are a byproduct of this process, and research shows that a diet rich in fermented foods increases the diversity of gut microbes and reduces inflammation.
A few of the most common fermented foods include:
- Pickled vegetables (including pickles and sauerkraut)
- Kim chi
- Beet kvass
- Cottage cheese
The problem is, when you buy grocery store varieties of these products, there’s no way to tell how many live, thriving bacteria they contain. Many products are pasteurized during production, which kills not only harmful, but friendly bacteria.
A more reliable way to make sure you’re getting live bacteria from these foods is to ferment them yourself. Making homemade yogurt, sauerkraut, and other fermented veggies isn’t hard at all, and you also have the ability to make sure your finished product is free of sugar, preservatives, and other unnecessary additives.
You can buy yogurt makers at most stores and online, and fermenting pots (which look a lot like crockpots) even exist. You can also find a variety of cookbooks and recipes online for how to ferment some of your favorite vegetables, including cabbage (to make sauerkraut), cucumbers (to make pickles), peppers, carrots, seaweed, and more.
#2: Eat More PREbiotic Foods
Prebiotics are basically soluble fiber and indigestible sugars (such as inulin, fructooligosaccharides, and galactooligosaccharides) that feed the beneficial bacteria that populate the gut. They are essential for probiotics to not only survive but thrive inside your gut.
The soluble fiber in these foods moves through the digestive tract until it reaches the colon (lower intestine). The bacteria ferment and feed on the fiber, which gets converted to short-chain fatty acids like butyric acid. Butyric acid stimulates the growth of even more bacteria and prevents inflammation, which is helpful for calming conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Some additional benefits of prebiotics include:
- Greater diversity of gut bacteria
- Reduced ratio of bad-to-good gut bacteria
- Enhanced regularity
For these reasons, eating more prebiotic foods is an extremely easy and effective way to boost the health of your microbiome. Some of the best foods include:
- Unripe (more green-ish) bananas
#3 Take a Probiotic Supplement
Arguably the easiest way to ensure you get a healthy dose of beneficial bacteria into your system every day is through supplementation with probiotics.
There’s a slew of well-documented, high-quality research supporting the benefits of taking probiotic supplements. A few of these proven benefits include:
- Restoring balance of gut bacteria, especially after the use of antibiotics
- Immune support
- Protection from gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and other digestive symptoms
- Allergy relief
- Prevention of skin conditions like eczema
- Reduction of cholesterol
It’s very important to make sure you buy high-quality probiotics to ensure you actually benefit from the bacteria that settle in your gut.
With probiotics in particular, delivery systems, variety of strains, packaging, shelf life, and more can make a big difference in effectiveness and safety.
In terms of delivery, find a product that encapsulates the bacteria. The digestive tract is a harsh, unforgiving environment—one where probiotics can easily die on their way to the gut. Proper encapsulation allows the bacteria to reach the intestines without being destroyed along the way.
You should also look for products that contain a blend of different types of organisms, with at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs) per dose.
Newport Natural Health’s Microencapsulated Probiotic with FOS meets all these criteria—and it includes prebiotics as well, to support the growth and survival of the beneficial bacteria. By choosing a high-quality probiotic like this one, you are much more likely to experience the positive effects confirmed in so many studies over the years.