7 Tips to feed and breed your gut

Apr 16, 2014 at 9:01 p.m. ET

Learn how to maximize the benefits of your probiotics and balance your microbiome.

Photo credit: Goodluz/iStock/360/Getty Images

Many of us spend hundreds of dollars on supplements yearly, aiming for perfect health, flawless skin and fast recovery. Today, more than ever, we understand the importance of probiotics. With 10 bacteria cells to every one human cell in our body, we need to ensure our bacterial ecosystem, known as the microbiome, is diverse and flourishing.

Our microbiome’s main job is to produce short-chain fatty acids, synthesize vitamins B and K and metabolize bile acids. These healthy microscopic bacteria cells are responsible for the strength of our immune system, co-factors in hundreds of daily enzymatic processes that keep us fit and directly affect our epigenetics. With disruptions in the microbiome linked to cognitive disorders such as anxiety, depression and autism it is super important to protect and promote this environment.

Be healthy with these top seven tips to breed and feed your gut.

Supplement with refrigerated probiotics to ensure the bacteria is alive when you ingest it. Look for a brand with at least 50 billion live cultures and ensure diversity with multiple strains. You want both “lacto” and “bifido” bacteria strains to support the small and large intestines.

Monitor the foods you eat that contain probiotics such as kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir; some contain only one or two strains of probiotics and are loaded with sugar. Pick a low-sugar option.

Ingest 6 grams of prebiotics daily to keep your good bacteria alive and flourishing. (What are prebiotics? Prebiotics are the indigestible fibers that feed our healthy bacteria. Here is a list to help you get to 6 grams daily.)

  • 1/3 ounce raw chicory root
  • 3/4 ounce raw Jerusalem artichoke
  • 1 ounce raw dandelion greens
  • 1.2 ounces raw garlic
  • 1.8 ounces raw leek
  • 2.5 ounces raw onion
  • 1/4 pound or 4 ounces cooked onion
  • 1.3 pound raw banana

Balance bad bacteria by ingesting yeast and candida-fighting foods such as coconut oil, garlic, onions and ginger.

Limit foods that feed yeast such as processed carbohydrates and sugar.

Determine if you really need those antibiotics. Antibiotics will not only kill off bad bacteria but also wipe out the good. If you opt for the cold killer, increase your probiotic consumption to avoid yeast overgrowth and repopulate your colon.

Promote elimination and the removal of toxic bacteria through hydration, daily bowel movements and quality sleep.

To learn more about how your microbiome affects your genes, visit the Human Microbiome Project, a NIH project.

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