Fermented foods contain bacteria that will help build the gut microbiome. There are several foods and food supplements that contain probiotic bacteria. These include dietary supplements, pharmaceutical products, medical foods, and infant formula; fermented foods like fresh yogurt, fermented milk, aged cheese, kimchi, craft beer, and miso; fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or pickles and sourdough bread.
The most common probiotic bacteria species are Lactobacilli acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum. Probiotics microorganisms belong to a group of genera, including Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus, Leuconostoc, Bacillus, and Escherichia coli.
Gut bacteria (microorganisms) aid in the digestion of food. They assist digestion by helping release nutrition from the food — making it available to the body. Gut microbiota help protects the body from external infections. Healthy and balanced gut microbiota is critical to a healthy gut and body.
Probiotic bacteria are effective only when alive and consumed in adequate quantity. A daily serving should contain at least a billion CFUs (Colony Forming Units)
Misbalances in the gut microbiota can lead to diarrhea, constipation, inflamed bowels, and other gut ailments. Even diabetes and allergies have been connected to the state of the gut microbiome (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics).
There are several ways to introduce healthy bacteria into the gut:
- Probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts similar to the beneficial microorganisms in the human gut. They can be found in dietary supplements or fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
- Prebiotics: Prebiotics are indigestible fibers that act as food for the healthy bacteria in the gut. They can be found in garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and bananas.
- Fermented Foods: Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and pickled vegetables contain live cultures of healthy bacteria.
- Antibiotic Treatment: Antibiotics can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut. After taking antibiotics, it can be helpful to introduce healthy bacteria through probiotics or fermented foods.
- Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT): FMT is a medical procedure where healthy bacteria from a donor’s stool is transplanted into the gut of a person with digestive problems.
It is important to note that everyone’s gut microbiome is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to note that some people may have a sensitivity or allergy to certain probiotics, prebiotics, or fermented foods, so it is recommended to speak with a healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet.
In general, consuming probiotics or prebiotics through diet is considered the safest and most beneficial way to introduce healthy bacteria into the gut. More invasive methods, such as fecal microbiota transplant (FMT), should only be considered under the guidance and supervision of a healthcare provider.
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