How to build up your gut’s microbiome and promote your intestinal flora
Do you often experience a bloated stomach, persistent abdominal pain, or other indigestion distressing symptoms? Do you want to change that while doing something for your long-term health? Learn about the influence of your intestinal bacteria on your well-being and get tips on how to strengthen, maintain and promote your intestinal flora.
Building up the gut flora
Our digestive tract is a unique structure. The stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver and pancreas are able to dissect our daily consumed foods into their constituent parts and into the bloodstream.
The remarkable thing here is that our organs do not dispute the digestion of food alone. Innumerable little helpers, who live in us, support our digestive system.
In particular, the large intestine is populated with trillions of bacteria of various kinds and other microorganisms. Due to their complexity, the sum of the bacteria is even called a separate organ.
In the jargon, we used to define our inner life as “gut flora.” Today we use the terms intestinal microbiome or scientifically correct: intestinal microbiota. Colloquially, the terms gut flora and microbiome are commonly used.
When we speak of the microbiome, the following knowledge is helpful:
1- There are both beneficial and less beneficial types of bacteria.
2- The higher the variety of bacteria, the better the chances of a healthy gut environment.
3- A thriving number of beneficial bacteria can have a positive impact on our health.
4- Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, and prebiotics are their favorite foods.
5- Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, Firmincuten, Provotella, Clostridia species, E. coli are the enterotype (the composition of intestinal bacteria species). These differ in humans due to diet and lifestyle.
With a long-term change in diet and lifestyle, one can positively influence and adjust the enterotype. Individual measures may help rather short-term. Thus, it’s best to adopt a lasting regular diet plan, not only for a couple of weeks.
Why did the bacteria choose our intestine as their whereabouts? In the course of evolution, microorganisms and humans developed a well-rehearsed relationship of mutual benefits – a symbiosis. Consequently, we humans provide the bacteria with the food (through the food) and the optimal shelter (in the intestine).
As an exchange, we benefit from the metabolic products of bacteria, which both have a protective effect on the intestinal cells. Furthermore, important functions in the metabolism, nervous system and the immune system can take over.
Why do our intestines need nourishment?
Our microbiome mainly feeds on carbohydrates. Advantageous bacteria have, in contrast to our digestive tract, enzymes for the breakdown of fiber, such as inulin, pectin and resistant starch.
Other bacterial species prefer to make their way through oligopeptides from higher-protein foods such as meat, fish and eggs.
Some species, however, reproduce well on the basis of refined sugars and isolated sources of starch, which typically characterize a one-sided diet.
Consumption of alcohol and food additives, such as sweeteners, may also contribute to an imbalance of the various types of bacteria in our intestines.
It is known that beneficial intestinal bacteria love vegetables and fruits of all kinds, because these foods are full of fiber.
Inulin-rich vegetables such as chicory, artichokes, salsify, asparagus, onion, leek, and garlic are particularly noteworthy.
Quinces and apples contain a lot of pectin. Chilled potatoes, chilled rice, green bananas and plantain have a significant proportion of resistant starch. Sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, cabbage, pears, berries and nuts (especially pistachios) can also contribute to a healthy microbiome.
Legumes and whole grains from cereals are also good sources of carbohydrate for the microbiome. However, these foods need relatively high levels of anti-nutrients, which is why these foods are not necessarily part of a healthy diet without special preparation (germination, fermentation, sprouting).
About the great polyphenols
Lovers of dark chocolate will enjoy the following: Polyphenols promote the healthy biodiversity of intestinal bacteria. Polyphenols are among the phytochemicals that have the task in plants to attract insects and repel pests.
In berries, polyphenols are responsible for the red and blue color. So berries not only contain good fiber, but they are also a good donor of phytochemicals.
As you have already noticed, it becomes clear: natural foods help to build up and strengthen our intestinal flora. The best way to make use of these foods varies widely.
Are you aware that digestion is already beginning in the mouth? You can do a lot of work on your digestive tract by taking good care of your food. Through diligent chewing, the gut can then focus on absorbing the nutrients your body needs.
Your intestinal bacteria in the colon then take care of what could not be digested in the small intestine, for example, fiber. In return for the feed, they produce e.g. vitamins, short-chain fatty acids and neurotransmitters; substances that can serve your health and well-being.
Eat more fermented food
Bacteria play an important role not only in our digestion, but also in the fermentation of food.
Fermentation is a great way to conserve fresh food without adversely affecting its nutritional content or beneficial properties. During the fermentation process happens about the same thing as in our digestive tract.
The breakdown of fiber structures makes vegetables more digestible and the active lactic acid bacteria produce additional vitamins and release bound minerals from phytic acid.
Excitingly, the vegetables change their taste during the fermentation, as well. The consumption of fermented foods makes it very easy to introduce new bacterial cultures that can contribute to the intestine.
The biggest advantage of fermented products may be the intake of acids such as lactic acid and glucuronic acid, as well as vitamins and the improved availability of minerals.
The purchase of finished enzymes in the supermarket, such as sauerkraut, unfortunately, has a disadvantage.
Homemade fermented foods are the best
They often have to heat the food for preservation during production and bottling to reduce the germ burden of spoilage. This also kills beneficial bacteria for the most part and reduces the nutrient content.
The good news: own fermentation is very easy. Purchase your vegetables of choice with brine, add some tasty spices, place them airtight in a jar, and off you go with the fermentation by lactic acid bacteria.
Since lactic acid bacteria are present everywhere in our environment (even on the skin), you do not need to add them to the fermenting foods! After about 10 days to several weeks, the enzymes are ready for consumption.
You make your own sauerkraut from white cabbage or red cabbage, for pickled cucumbers you need cucumbers. Try out your own fermentation skill and follow my easy recipe to make your own sauerkraut:
If you want to eat dairy products, yogurt and kefir are good for you. Rely on products made from high-quality milk and their full-fat varieties. If you get the right culture, you can make kefir and yogurt yourself at home and let your imagination run wild with cow, sheep and goat milk.
Most compatible are probably variants of sheep and goat’s milk. Practically, even lactose-sensitive people tolerate fermented dairy products often well.
Lactic acid bacteria break down lactose. Through the produced lactic acid, carbonic acid and other metabolic products, the foods receive, along with vegetable enzymes, their unique taste.
Again, supermarket items remain in the background regarding their health benefits compared to home-made products, This is relative to the diversity of the bacteria contained and the micronutrient content.
Easily prepare non-dairy Kefir
Those who do not eat dairy products do not have to do without the probiotic treats, either. You can prepare Kefir, for instance, also from coconut milk. Due to the lack of lactose, however, the culture in the coconut milk cannot multiply.
To ferment coconut milk place it together with milk kefir grains in a mason jar (glass one-half gallon). Cover it lightly, and let it sit for at least 12 hours between 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you’ve reached the 12-hour time-span, begin to taste the product regularly until it has achieved your desired fermentation level.
You can pep up your tea and water in the future, too. Kombucha is, with bacteria, yeasts and some cane sugar (the microorganisms break this down), a versatile probiotic drink. Here’s the recipe on how to make some simple, yet delicious, Kombucha at home:
When should I build up my intestinal flora with probiotics and prebiotics in powdered form?
Antibiotic treatments not only eliminate unwanted pathogens, but they also affect the beneficial intestinal bacteria in their diversity and function.
In order to naturally boost the healthy intestinal colonization after necessary antibiotic treatment, you can use commercially available probiotic preparations.
In the digestive tract, the dried bacteria become active again and find their place of wellbeing in the large intestine.
The more types of bacteria the product contains, the better. The capsule of the preparation should consist of cellulose or gelatin.
This way the bacteria will reach the large intestines unharmed and without being digested beforehand. Nowadays, probiotics are not only available in capsule form. Thus, it’s best to pay close attention to the packaging instructions.
One should not rely entirely on the bacteria from the capsule form and from ferments – taking probiotic cultures does not automatically mean that the intestinal flora changes as a result.
It may make more sense to promote a better composition of the intestinal bacteria by a long-term change in diet and observance of the physiology of digestion.
Feeding your probiotics well is best instead of recultivating them
In other words, it is better to “feed” the intestinal bacteria with prebiotic substances and, thus, influence the composition.
You can purchase prebiotics in the powdered form of apple pectin, inulin, psyllium husk, baobab and potato starch, and add them to your food.
You can also blend a probiotic fermented food (e.g., coconut yogurt, Kombucha) with powdered prebiotics. So you combine bacteria with their food base and kill two birds with one stone (probiotics + prebiotics = symbiotics).
The addition of prebiotics can help regulate blood sugar levels and build up a dysbiosis. However, this should not be a long-term solution!
The better choice: wholesome, natural foods (real food!). Because it is not clear if isolated fibers have the same positive effects on our intestines as the interaction of the entire ingredients from a portion of natural food.
Considering the carbohydrate intake, e.g. as part of a ketogenic diet, one should carefully select the carbohydrates taken for the microbiome. In this case, the intake of the prebiotics just mentioned may be recommended.
If we deprive the intestinal bacteria of food, they will instead take the protective layer of the intestinal cells, which may result in an impairment of the intestinal barrier. Less food in the form of carbohydrates (or fiber) can reduce the number of bacteria in the gut and, thereby, the amount of their production of potentially protective and beneficial metabolites.
Is a fiber-rich, fermented diet recommended for everyone?
Basically, yes. If you start with the conversion to a plant-rich diet, it is worth gradually getting used to an increasing amount of fiber in the diet to avoid indigestion.
Even when eating fermented vegetables and prebiotic/probiotic remedies, it is recommended that you take smaller amounts during the first few days and gradually increase the portion sizes.
The situation is different if one already suffers from a damaged or deficient colon (small bowel malady, IBS, Chrohn’s disease, etc.). In this case, one is often sensitive to fructose or FODMAPs.
However, FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) are now exactly the carbohydrate species that intestinal bacteria so readily metabolize. Before switching to a bacteria-friendly diet, it may be useful to first examine the intestinal health.
Autoimmune diseases – such as Hashimoto, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, in which the immune system is directed against the body’s own tissue, show a connection with the intestinal health.
If you have histamine intolerance, you should treat fermented foods with caution due to the potential increase in histamine levels. Again, just test small amounts of the food to check the individual compatibility.
With all good advice in mind, give your diet and your bacteria time to adjust. Gradually test what suits you and your microbiome and feed yourself accordingly.
Incidentally, we should be aware that an excessive level of hygiene in everyday life reduces the possibility that a variety of healthy bacteria can feel comfortable in us. Not to forget – exercise, restful sleep and a balanced psyche contribute to a healthy, species-rich microbiome.
Darling co-creators, have you already had experience with the development of your gut, fermentation of food and the use of pro- and prebiotics? Will you try from now on to promote a healthy intestinal flora?
How is your microbiome? Let us know in a comment below. I’m really looking forward to hearing from you.
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I’m sending you much love, happiness, peace and an abundance of all good things. Remember that you are unique spiritual beings, here on a special mission…You are appreciated, cherished and endlessly loved. ~Namaste~