What is Good Bacteria?
What is in your body? Bacteria, duh?!
I found myself the other day walking over towards an end cap at the grocery story and staring at the different brands of Kombucha. How did I even get to this point as an adult getting Kombucha as part of my regular dietary intake? I mean it is live bacteria for fudge sake?! However, most of our foods have these amazing bacterias that help us from getting sick and regulate our body systems.
Our bodies are home to over a TRILLION good bacteria! Yes, I typed in TRILLION. You have more good bacteria than bad in your body. And not only are these bacteria good for us, but they are practically essential to our bodies survival.
Have you ever seen a Rhino with a little bird sitting on top of it? This bird is called an Oxpecker bird. That bird is eating ticks and parasites off the rhino’s back. So the bird is benefiting because it is getting fed and the rhino is benefiting because it’s getting less ticks and parasites on its back. This symbiotic relationship between the rhino and Oxpecker bird is called mutualism. And us as human beings share the same relationship with our gut bacteria. Both parties are benefiting from living and existing together.
So if the bird lives on the rhino’s back, where does our bacteria live? It is in an ecosystem within our bodies called the Microbiome. This is at the end of our intestinal tract within our colon. Keeping this ecosystem in check and running smoothly is critical to our health and can be thrown off by numerous little things. Getting sick, consuming medications, or even just the foods we eat can throw off the balance of good vs bad bacteria in our gut.
That is where Probiotics come in; they are live, helpful bacteria we can consume that populate our gut and police bad bacteria.
What is the difference between a Probiotic and a Prebiotic?
So let’s start with the buzzword of bacteria. Probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms, basically bacteria and sometimes yeast, that give some sort of health benefit to the person taking them.
Now to further understand that statement we need to understand how the gut works. The job of the gut, being the small intestine and the large intestine, is to extract energy from foods, absorb nutrients and water, and remove waste from your system. When you are taking probiotics the majority of them end up at the end of the intestinal system in the colon. This is where that ecosystem we spoke of your microbiome lives.
So when we are talking about the good bacteria in your gut, we are talking about the bacteria that is helping you get nutrients from your food to improve your body's immune functions. This is the job of your good bacteria.
Now to help feed that good bacteria, we need to eat vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These are fibrous items that your body cannot digest, however, good bacteria eat up quite well. These are known as prebiotics. Making sure that you have these within your diet helps feed the probiotics within your gut biome and helps them continue to do their job.
And now that you have the fuel for your gut, you can also consume the regular foods such as the Kombucha at the end cap, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso soup. These are probiotic rich foods that naturally contain probiotics and will keep your microbiome happy and well maintained.
So the big lesson here is that we already live with bacteria. Keeping it specifically happy will only make us that much healthier and stronger! And with the consumer trends going most people are reaching for the refined sugar and breads that will hurt their gut microbiome and cause unwanted amounts of health issues that come down the road. So head into the vegetable section and grab some healthy greens, however, on your way out get some of that good bacteria and treat your gut to some good friends.