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How to keep your gut bacteria healthy

Think of your gut like a garden. You want a beautiful garden full of flowers, produce and plants just like you want a healthy gut full of good, protective bacteria. The right type of probiotics can help get rid of the weeds, nourish the soil with antioxidants and nutrients and ensuring the environment is set up to keep the weeds from coming back.


THAT’’S A GOOD GUT PROTOCOL.


In order to keep your gut garden healthy, you need:

  • Fiber

  • Short Chain Fatty Acids

  • Prebiotics

  • Probiotics

I got you covered. Let’s break it down. I want to cover the importance of each and give you food resources first! Supplement resources will be at the end.


If you want to skip all the detail and just get the list of foods/supplement versions, here you go.



Fiber:

Five percent of American are meeting recommendations for daily fiber intake. FIVE PERCENT!!

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We. need.to.chat.


Why is this a problem? Because fiber is essential for health. In large part because of how it serves our gut microbiota.


Some facts about fiber:

  • It helps keep us full

  • It helps regulate blood sugar

  • It helps feed good gut bacteria which protects your immune system

  • It helps you poop

  • It helps detoxify junk you want taken out of your body

If this is so important, why is only five percent of the U.S doing a good job at it. The number one reason is likely lack of awareness.


Have you ever assessed your fiber intake? At a minimum you should be eating 25 grams of fiber per day but ideally your intake is closer to 30-40 grams.


Some fiber rich foods include: fruits, vegetables, flaxseed, chia seed, beans, nuts, avocado, root veggies like carrots, parsnips, beets, lentils, oats and other whole grains. Other non-real food items include high fiber crackers, fiber powders, high fiber granolas, cereals, etc.


If you’re thinking, but when I eat these foods, I bloat and my gut feels terrible. That’s not a fiber issue, that’s a gut issue and it’s something that needs your attention.


Within the fiber category, we need to cover Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs).


Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs)

SCFAs are molecules produced by bacteria when they ferment food inside the gut. They're just as important as their friends omega 3's, 6's, 9's, etc.

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The cool thing is SCFAs will kinda make themselves AS LONG AS you're feeding them. They need a gut environment of prebiotics + probiotics.

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SCFAs have a big impact on the gut by supporting the mucus layer, keep inflammation in check, improve blood sugar, increase metabolic rate, serve as a fuel source for cells in the colon. They also impact how energy is metabolized in the body and are associated with decreased risk for colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.


Cool, Robyn. How do I feed them?


An excellent way increase SCFAs in your gut is with resistant starch foods. Resistant starch resists digestion and bypass absorption in the stomach and small intestine. They moves into the colon where they ferment and create SCFAs.


These foods include:

  • Legumes, Beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas

  • Green bananas/plantains

  • Green banana flour

  • Cooked and cooled potatoes

  • Cooked and cooled rice

  • Banana Peels (organic only)

  • There are also flour or powder versions like: tiger nut flour, raw potato starch, cassava starch, tapioca starch, mung bean powder, plantain flour, and green banana flour.

  • Lastly, there are direct resistant starch powders like Designs for Health Paleo RS (I use this in my smoothies)

Tip: when increasing fiber, go slow and ensure you’re drinking enough water to keep bowels moving!


Prebiotics

These are the foods that feed those probiotics. While yes, we need the good bacteria (the probiotics) present. We need to be FEEDING them too versus just relying on the probiotics themselves. Most prebiotics are types of dietary fiber, which is a kind of carbohydrate that we can’t digest.


Prebiotic foods include:

  • Jerusalem Artichokes

  • Asparagus

  • Leafy Greens

  • Onion

  • Bananas

  • Berries

  • Garlic

  • Honey

  • Flaxseed

  • Leeks

  • Legumes

  • Dandelion greens

  • Potatoes (cooked & cooled)

  • Chicory Root (often found in bars)

  • Oats

  • Wheat*

  • Barley*

  • Rye*

*Contains gluten


GLUTEN FREE PEEPS: It’s important to note that if you’ve gone gluten free or grain free and you haven’t replaced those foods with other prebiotic foods, you’ve drastically reduced the food for your good gut bugs! You’ll want to ensure you’re getting other prebiotic sources in place of what was removed.

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This was a big part of a discussion at the conference I attended this weekend. A 2010 study said 81% of prebiotic intake in the Western diet comes from wheat & barley. If wheat is removed, make sure you're replacing the prebiotics!


Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria for the gut. I could list the many benefits of probiotics but the jist is, they’re essential for good gut healthy, immune system, hormones and nearly every area of health you can think of. I’m going to go ahead and assume you don’t need anymore convincing that gut health is important and just give you the to-dos.


Prebiotic foods include:

Non-Dairy Sources

  • Tamari/soy sauce

  • Kombucha/Synergy drink

  • Sauerkraut (Bubbies Brand)

  • Miso

  • Tempeh

  • Kim Chee

Dairy Sources (organic, grass finished cows when possible)

  • Kefir

  • Yogurt

  • Cottage Cheese

  • Buttermilk


In terms of probiotic supplements, an optimal probiotic will:

  • Contain species that are known to impact health

  • Be of a strain that is found in the microbiota – It has to have a binding site and belong in the gut

  • Resist acid and bile upon digestion

  • Attach to epithelial cells

  • Colonize in the human gut

  • Produce antimicrobial substances

  • Protect against pathogens

  • Be clinically validated


IMO, the best option for supplement versions are sporebiotics because they are proven to:

  • Suppress activity of pathogenic bacteria

  • Reduce endotoxins in the gut within 30 days

  • Increase microbial diversity by 40%

  • Form robust endospore and can withstand harsh temps, desiccation, low pH, gastric barriers, antibiotics, UV radiation, solvents, enzymes and even high pressures

  • Help produce key enzymes that aid in the digestion of food

  • Colonize very effectively in the human gut

  • Improve mucosal barrier function

  • Increase immune response

  • Produce high levels of carotenoids that are of the highest bioavailability

  • Help develop the GALT (gut lymphatic system)

Bonus: they don't require refrigeration and are shelf stable for 5 years!


Most importantly, they work. I’ve seen great success with spore based probiotics with clients that it’s now my number one recommended probiotic.



Supplement versions:

Top probiotic supplement recommendations:

  • MegaSporebiotic by Microbiome Labs

  • Just Thrive Probiotic (they buy their spores from the company above so it’s essentially the same thing) Code "nutritionbyrobyn" will get you 10% off.

  • Proflora by Bio Botanical Research (they also buy their spores from Microbiome labs but have some added goods for histamine support)

Top Prebiotic supplement recommendations:

Top Fiber powder recommendations:

Start slow with any of these and work up dose as tolerated by your gut.

  • Designs for Health Paleo RS (stand for resistant starch)

  • Designs for Health Paleo Fiber (a bigger blend of fiber types)

  • Acacia Fiber

Top Short Chain Fatty Acid supplement recommendations

  • Butyrate by Body Bio

  • Microbiome labs version coming soon...


Where to find these products?


You can find any of these products (aside from Just Thrive) by creating a free Fullscript account here. It’s free to create an account and you’ll receive 10% off each order. I receive a small percentage but anything I recommend is based on experience & effectiveness (not dollars).

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©2017 by Nutrition by Robyn, LLC