Our gut contains more than 100 million different types of bacteria, a flourishing microbial ecosystem. Like any other function in the body, the microorganisms can have both a positive and a negative effect on our bodies.
These bacterial families need to be nourished and nurtured. But we want to promote the beneficial and weed out the rest. How we do that depends on the type of gut we have and our existing microbiome.
What is your Gut Type
Intestinal health is important and in order to get the best out of your diet, you should know your gut and its quirks. According to Josh Axe, a natural medical doctor and nutritionist, there are different types of guts, each with its telltale signs and a list of rectifying foods to bring yours back to optimal health.
- Candida GutCharacterised by a white coating on the tongue, weight gain and phlegmy coughs, this type is an overgrowth of the candida fungus in the digestive tract. A large portion of the carbohydrates that you need for energy are stolen by the fungus so that they can continue to leech off you.
For candida, delicacies including anything from the best patisseries – ice creams, cakes, cookies – are essentially everything it needs to survive and thrive.
Healing a fungal overgrowth takes time, and you would have to avoid all things sweet for the next several months. The smallest nibble of sugary foods or yeast and you’ll have to start again – from scratch.
Healing tip – eat soups, stews veggies, fermented foods (kimchi and sauerkraut) and take probiotics.
- Gassy GutInhaling large portions of food like there is no tomorrow is the main cause for this type of gastric gut. The digestive system moves slowly and creates issues such as bloating, acid reflux and gas.
Also, take your time chewing and don’t overdo the portions.
With this type of gut, you should eat several small meals per day containing vegetables, citrus fruits and herbs. It is also important to drink plenty of water and take some supplements with digestive enzymes. Try to avoid anything fried, spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine.
- Stressed GutStress diverts the blood flow away from the digestive system, impairing the growth of beneficial bacteria and results in a decreased libido, sleep issues and trouble focusing. If these symptoms sound familiar, you should avoid caffeine and booze, while loading up on salty foods, animal proteins and supplements of vitamin B.
- Immune GutThis type of gut is generally characterised by food sensitivities, such as dairy and gluten intolerances, and multiple allergies. These can be caused by long-term use of antibiotics, steroids, birth-control pills. You should replace antibiotics, alcohol, dairy and packaged foods with healthy fats, supplements of digestive enzymes, and probiotics.
- Toxic GutEating processed and fast foods causes an inflammatory chain in the gut. These can eventually lead to a multitude of problems such as gallstones and rosacea and neurological illness. Luckily, this is easier to fix: just stay away from alcohol, oils and avoid fried fast food like the plague. Instead, eat plenty of raw fruit and vegetables.
So now that you have identified which gut type you have and how to heal, you can nourish your digestive tract further by adding bacteria. How do they help?
How Bacteria Help
Living in the human gut are billions upon billions of bacteria. Most of them are beneficial to our digestive systems and immune systems, but some are toxic and damaging to our health. Humans and bacteria have a symbiotic relationship; where their continued growth in our gastrointestinal tract is useful to us in more ways than one:
- They help to metabolise food and nutrients
- Metabolising drugs – breaking them down in the gut so that they can be absorbed
- Immune response – helps to prevent infection and inflammation
- Preventing the colonisation of pathogenic microbes – by claiming the growing space, they restrict the real estate for growth of more dangerous bacterial species<./li>
- Help improve the normal intestinal barrier function to prevent entry of pathogens
The gastrointestinal ecosystem is normally stable but the balanced nature of the gut is delicate.
When the balance is upset, infections can be cured with antibiotics, but then the beneficial bacteria must be replenished to restore full gastrointestinal functionality.
We can do this with probiotics, live organisms which help in digestive health. The most common species found in probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which should be taken regularly to promote a good level of colonisation.
Yogurt, raw cheese, miso, gherkin pickles, and other fermented foods – kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut – are natural probiotics and preferable to marketed dietary supplementations.