June 12th, 2011
By Craig Fear
That’s right. You read the subject line correctly. It’s not a mistake. Nor is it a gimmick. I’m dead serious. You really do need to eat more bacteria for good health.
But first, this blog is a continuation in a series detailing the underlying issues that can prevent not only healthy weight loss but good health in general. So let’s review real quick.
The first and most important underlying issue is Blood Sugar. You have to get sugar out of your diet. The second is Digestion, more specifically, correcting the acidity in the stomach so that our food can start to digest properly. The third was Digestion again, with a focus on food sensitivities and leaky gut in the small intestine.
Now here’s the fourth:
Underlying issue #4: Digestion!
OK, I promise, this is the last topic on digestion. But digestion doesn’t end in the small intestine! It ends in the large intestine, and that’s what today’s blog is about. This is an area that causes so many problems for so many people.
So let’s continue our journey south in the digestive process.
After your food leaves the small intestine, whatever is left, moves into the large intestine for recycling and excretion. Here’s where things get interesting. Because here, in your large intestine, lies a microbial world so rich, so dense and so complex, that scientists are learning new things about it all the time. I liken it to the Amazon rainforest and you could think of it as a separate ecosystem living entirely within us.
In this ecosystem lies about five trillion (yes, that’s trillion with a T) bacteria which is about five times the cells that make up your body. About five hundred different species have been discovered. We can’t live without them and they can’t live without us. It is essential that they are healthy and thrive as they play dozens and perhaps hundreds of roles in our body. They enhance the uptake of vitamins and minerals, keep the lining of the large intestine healthy, benefit the immune system and help with the production of some hormones, to name just a few.
However, within these hundreds of different species lie harmful ones. Scientists estimate that about 80% are beneficial and 20% are harmful. But if the microbial ecosystem is healthy, the good guys keep the bad guys in check.
Enter the Standard American Diet.
This is the equivalent of all-out war on our friendly gut flora.
Because guess what the bad guys love?
Now the bad guys start gaining an upper hand on the good guys. One bad guy in particular is known as candida albicans. Candida is very common in women. It’s a yeast and when it gets out of balance it can cause yeast infections amongst many other problems.
Guess what else wreaks havoc with our friendly flora?
Anti-biotics which translates as ‘anti-life’ are prescribed by doctors to kill harmful bacteria within us. While this may be necessary, antibiotics also kill beneficial bacteria. Probiotics which translates as ‘pro-life’ are supplements that contain bacteria that occur naturally in our digestive system, particularly our large intestine. This is why probiotic supplements are often used after a round of antibiotics to re-populate the gut with good, health promoting bacteria.
But let’s not forget diet! Many practitioners are quick to prescribe dozens of costly supplements without taking care of the root cause – poor diet.
So obviously, removing sugar from the diet is key. Another important thing to do is to eat more cultured foods as these are Nature’s true probiotics.
All traditional cultures, before the advent of refrigerators and freezers, consumed cultured foods on a regular basis. Culturing foods preserves them for long periods of time. It’s a natural process by which the starches and sugars in fruits, vegetables and dairy are chemically broken down by naturally occurring bacteria and converted into lactic acid. Thus culturing is also referred to as lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid preserves food and prevents spoilage. More importantly these chemical changes have some remarkable health benefits. They are truly super foods with powerful healing properties.
Probably the most common cultured food in America is yogurt. Yogurt, as well as other cultured dairy products, is often well tolerated by those with dairy sensitivities. Casein, the protein in milk is difficult for many to digest. Culturing pre-digests casein. Lactose, the sugar in milk can also be difficult for some to digest. Lactose intolerance is a common condition in which the body lacks the ability to break down lactose. Culturing pre-digests lactose. Thus even those with lactose intolerance can tolerate most cultured dairy products including butter, buttermilk, cheese, kefir, sour cream and crème fraiche to name just a few.
The second most common cultured food in America is probably sauerkraut which is just fermented cabbage. Other common cultured vegetables include kimchi, a spicy Asian sauerkraut (and my personal favorite), pickles, beets and carrots. Most of these can be found in health food stores. However, there’s nothing simpler and easier to make than fermented fruits and vegetables! Store bought or home-made, learn to incorporate these foods into your diet on a regular basis.
So I hope you understand why correcting digestive issues are so vital to overall health. Along with balancing the body’s blood sugar by reducing sugar and processed foods, many health issues will start to correct. Digestion and Blood Sugar Balance – these are truly the twin pillars of good health in the body!
Truth be told, there are many more underlying issues that can prevent good health. Fatty acid deficiencies, mineral deficiencies, dehydration, toxins and stress are a few examples. But for simplicity sake, work with Digestion and Blood Sugar Balance and I’m confident you’ll make progress.
Finally, seats are filling up fast in the Get at the Roots! 12 week weight loss/wellness class. Classes start this week so if you’re interested and/or have questions, feel free to contact me.
I’m truly excited to teach this fantastic new program here in western MA! Each week we detail a different underlying issue of poor health and how to correct it. Guess where we start with the first four classes?
I hope by now you know the answer.