Eating bacteria may sound like a frightening recommendation, but consider this fact: the human body is equal parts human cells and bacteria. Since the human body is already filled with bacteria, the goal is to make sure the “good” bacteria outnumber the “bad.”
“Good” vs. “Bad” Bacteria
“Bad” bacteria, also known as pathogenic bacteria, cause infection, inflammation, and sickness. “Good” bacteria aid with digestion and fight invading microbes. Thus, an overabundance of bad bacteria will inevitably lead to problems. The imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gut is known as “dysbacteriosis” (or “dysbiosis”), and symptoms may include the following:
- Excess intestinal gas
- Too little or no intestinal gas
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic bad breath
- Hormonal problems
- Menstrual complaints
- Prostate trouble
- Breast enlargement in men
- Need for sexual hormone medication
- Candida infection (“candidiasis“)
- Chronic anemia
- Chronic respiratory problems
- Dairy product allergies and intolerances
- Vitamin B deficiencies
- High cholesterol levels
- Neurological problems
- Severe bruising problems
- Chronic vaginal infections
- Chronic bladder infections
- Osteoporosis (loss of bone mass)
- Sarcopenia (loss of muscle tissue)
What causes dysbacteriosis?
Dysbacteriosis is caused by antibiotic usage, illness, stress, aging, poor dietary habits (namely consuming refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods), and excessive cleanliness. Because it’s so easy to disrupt the ratio of good to bad bacteria, it’s extremely important to continually take positive steps towards optimal gut health.
If I have dysbacteriosis, is it really a big deal?
YES. YES. Yes, it truly is. Hippocrates once said “all disease begins in the gut,” and thousands of peer-reviewed studies support this fact. I just performed what I thought was a simple search for “gut microbiota” on PubMed.gov, and I uncovered a whopping 16,437 results. The health of the gut microbiome is now inextricably linked to brain health; researchers continue to study the link between gut health and ADHD, infection risk, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney disease and hypertension, and more! Thus, dysbacteriosis may cause any number of the symptoms listed above, but it may also lead to life-altering–or even life-threatening–illnesses and ailments.
Disrupt dysbacteriosis (forever!) by…
- Cleaning up your diet. (A great first step is to stop eating refined sugars and refined carbohydrates!)
- Avoiding antibiotics. (Hint: Amoxicillan doesn’t cure the common cold, so don’t be one of the millions of Americans who barges into the doctor’s office demanding it! You can fight off the majority of sicknesses on your own.)
- Taking a probiotic supplement. When choosing a probiotic, make sure it’s high-quality. (See this article by Dr. David Williams for some tips. I take this brand, which meets the majority of his criteria.)
- Eliminating antibacterial soaps from your home. It’s actually good to be a bit dirty! I use Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Liquid Castile Soap to stay clean…but not too clean.
- EATING PROBIOTICS. This is my favorite one, so I’ll expand below…
Eat the “Good” Bacteria
Instead of just popping a probiotic supplement, get into the habit of eating probiotics each day. Do so by consuming the following fermented foods:
- *Kombucha (fermented tea)
- Kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage)
- Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage; make sure it’s the real, alive kind, which you’ll only find in the refrigerated section of a health food store)
- *Kefir (fermented milk)
- *Yogurt (fermented milk)
- Raw cheese
*As always, be mindful of the sugar content of the foods you eat and the beverages you drink. I love kombucha, but I only drink it if it has 4g (or fewer!) of sugar per bottle. If you drink too much sugar with your probiotics, you negate any positive effects. (My current favorite flavor is Health-Ade’s Blood Orange Carrot Ginger because it contains only organic, non-GMO ingredients and 4g of sugar.)
Think fermented foods are too pricey?
Well, I’d have to agree with you. I bought a $5 kombucha today for a treat, but it cost more than my morning coffee. Last month, I purchased sauerkraut at Whole Foods that cost $8.99 and kimchi that cost about the same.
Fortunately Unfortunately, I developed an addiction to sauerkraut; I ate it plain, added it to salads, used it as a garnish for steak, and more. However, at $8.99/jar, I felt guilty eating it ’round the clock. That’s why I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands!
Now, I easily make my own sauerkraut using two tools: a 64-oz mason jar and a silicon fermentation lid. Aside from those two items, I only need a head of cabbage and salt. See this simple recipe and instructional video for all of the details. Making my own sauerkraut is definitely more cost-effective, but it’s also very cool to watch a vegetable come to life! You’ll have to try it for yourself.
Final note: Know that your good bacteria need to eat, and they LOVE raw vegetables!
Once you increase your consumption of probiotics through supplements and fermented foods, you’ll only get the full benefits if you feed those probiotics prebiotics. (These words get confusing, I know!) Some of the most common prebiotics are raw garlic, raw onions, raw asparagus, and raw jicama (my personal favorite), but there are others as well.
Happy gut, happy life! 🙂
Have you worked to eliminate dysbacteriosis in your body? Do you make a habit of eating fermented foods? If so, please share your experiences in the comments!
In each blog post, I aim to bring you food for thought (pun intended. Note: my day job is teaching English), but don’t take my word for it! Click on and read all of the links above to become your own expert on this topic; knowledge is power. The more you know and understand the “why” behind each biohack, the easier it will be to stick to it and realize you can’t live without it!
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