Love Your Gut And It Will Love You Back

love-your-gut-and-it-will-love-you-backProbiotics are living bacteria and yeasts naturally found in the body and are really important for one’s overall health, especially digestive health. And while the very word bacteria is for some synonymous with something bad, think all that anti-bacterial stuff on the market, our bodies are full of bacteria; most good, and some not so good. Probiotics are found in foods and when one needs to balance out that good gut bacteria, supplements are available.

“Probiotics are essential to our health because most of our immune system is housed in our gut,” says Danielle Russo, manager of Richard’s Foodporium on Ringling Boulevard in Sarasota. “Diet and environmental factors can upset the balance of good bacteria.” Danielle says she regularly takes supplements.

“I take a probiotic every day to ensure my good bacteria outnumber the bad,” she says. “I also try to incorporate probiotic-rich foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir.”

Bonni London, owner of Sarasota-based London Wellness, is a New York University- trained nutritionist and has been an accredited, registered and licensed dietitian for the past 17 years. Bonni does not mince words when it comes to probiotics. “Bugs are your friends,” she says and advises that if “you haven’t befriended these microscopic creatures, otherwise known as bacteria, now is the time.”

“There is a battle going on down in your gut, and you need to think about that every time you open your mouth, because you are not the only one who is eating,” Bonni says.

Most of the bacteria inside us are beneficial, Bonni says, and “need support for their survival.” But she goes further: “Our survival is actually dependent on these bacteria. We are constantly bombarded with pathogens, dangerous or even at times deadly bacteria. However, we rely on beneficial bacteria to keep these pathogens at bay.”

But the bacteria also play a major role in not just controlling but determining our weight. Research suggests that the type and species of ‘bug,’ or bacteria living in our gut determine whether we’re lean or tend toward obese and, for the latter, at risk for Type 2 diabetes. There’s a fix, though. We can re-condition our metabolisms by exacting revenge on the firmicutes (which are directly associated with obesity) and replace them with the lean-loving bacteroidetes, which love fiber. Firmicutes adore sugar, so we know they’re evil because when you have an overgrowth of them you crave sugar and carbs. They are strong, too, sending messages to your brain to eat more simple processed carbohydrates. So, if you’re the person that’s been fighting weight problems your whole life while your best friend can eat anything and not gain an ounce, now you know why.

What’s to be done about it?

“Starve the bad guys and feed the good guys,” Bonni says and the science agrees.

“Since we need to support the growth of these bacteria with appropriate provisions, vegetables are good, everyone agrees, and now we have more reason to seek them out. The undigested fiber in vegetables, fruit, grains, and legumes are fuel to support your microscopic support team,” she explains. “In addition, it has been shown that adding fermented foods to you diet, which contains naturally occurring bacteria, is an additional strategy to arm your team.”

Bonni, like Danielle, suggests more fermented foods in one’s diet, like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir, kombucha tea, or apple cider vinegar.

To learn more about probiotics, visit one of the many Richard’s Foodporium locations in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and Pinellas counties; you’ll find a list on the website RichardsFoodporium.com or check in with the very knowledgeable Bonni London at LondonWellness.net.