The bacterial secret to good health...
FILL YOUR BELLY WITH BUGS
You hear a lot of talk about diversity, and most of it’s a load of touchy-feely nonsense aimed at giving stuff YOU earned to some freeloader who hasn’t earned squat.
That’s right... I’ll say it, and I don’t give a rip how politically incor-rect it is. But there’s one place where diversity really does matter, and that’s in your belly——because having a wide variety of friendly bacteria can mean the difference between sickness and health... fat and thin... weak and strong... or even crazy and (mostly) normal.
Yes, folks, bacterial balance is just that important——and the latest research shows it’s not just the number of good bugs in your belly that count.
It’s the number of different types of bugs, aka the diversity or “richness” of bacterial species.
In the study, people with less diversity in these gut bacteria were essentially on the path to obesity and diabetes. They were more likely to gain weight, more likely to be obese or become obese, and more likely to have or develop insulin resistance.
Now, before I go any further, let me issue a warning here: If you eat a diet of Big Macs and French fries, it won’t matter one whit what kind of bacteria you’ve got in your gut——you WILL get fat, sick, weak, diabetic and ultimately dead.
But if you manage to eat a (mostly) healthy diet low in carbohydrates, those belly bugs will be your best friend——and the study shows they can do so much more than help keep the pounds off and diabetes at bay.
They can also slash your risk of inflammation, a major risk factor for everything from heart disease to dementia, not to mention an early death.
Think that’s good? That’s just for starters——because other studies go even further, showing how a bellyful of good bugs can protect against: cancer, asthma, autism, yeast infection, urinary tract infection, respiratory infection, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, C. diff infection, tooth decay, colds, the flu and skin conditions. And, of course, bacteria are critical to good digestion, healthy poop habits and the prevention of embarrassing gas, bloating, cramps and more.
So you know you need them. You know you need a wide range of them. Now comes the problem: making sure you have them.
Your gut is under assault from every direction. Poor diet, chemical addi-tives, water contaminants and more can all leave you high and dry, wiping out the healthy bugs in your gut. And the biggest threat of all to your friendly bacteria supply is a class of medication you’ve almost certainly taken...
Antibiotics work by killing bacteria——but they’re not precision instruments targeting only the bugs that make you sick.
They’re weapons of mass destruction, wiping out absolutely everything. (Everything, that is, except for drug-resistant bacteria such as C. diff and MRSA——but that’s a story for another day).
What’s left in your gut is Death Valley and in many cases, it’s a permanent change in the landscape that could leave you so unbalanced you might list to one side when you walk.
But you don’t have to live that way. You CAN take action now to restore balance to your gut and bring back the bacteria you need for good digestion and good health. And you can start with my...
TOP THREE BELLY BOOSTERS
Walk into any supermarket, and you’ll find the word “PROBIOTIC” plastered on everything from soy milk to yogurt. Save your money. Most of those products are worthless——wrong bacteria, wrong strains, wrong amounts or all of the above.
You’ll find some of the best sources of probiotics in some of the most unexpected places. Anything pickled or fermented, for example, will almost certainly be loaded with good bacteria——and that includes everything from sauerkraut to a pig’s knuckle.
The only things that might kill off the good bugs are the preservatives and other chemicals used in Big Food manufacturing, so I’d suggest re-learning the lost art of pickling and fermenting at home if that’s how you want to supply your stomach.
But there’s a much better way to fill your belly with disease-fighting good bacteria...
BOOSTER #1 RAW POWER
Raw milk——not to mention raw cheese, raw yogurt, and raw anything else that can be made from fresh unpasteurized milk——is positively crawling with healthy bacteria.
The secret ingredient is lactoferrin, a protein that sucks iron out of dangerous bacteria, effectively starving them to death, while allowing the good bugs to flourish. The result? You get all the friendly bacteria you need for health and digestion, and none of the bad.
Pasteurized supermarket swill, on the other hand, is heated and treated until all the bacteria——good and bad——are practically wiped out, and what’s left is worse than worthless.
Of course, the powers-that-be are doing their darndest to scare you away from healthy raw milk. Don’t believe the lies; produced responsibly, raw milk is every bit as safe as supermarket milk, and quite probably safer.
BOOSTER #2: SUPPLEMENTS
Probiotic isn’t just a marketing buzzword in the supermarket. It’s a buzzword in your vitamin shop——and it has no business being used in most of the places where it’s found.
That’s why you can’t just take any old probiotic——you need a quality supplement with the right strains in the right amounts. At the very minimum, look for a supplement with both Lactobacillus (such as L. acidophilus) and Bifidobacterium (such as B. bifidum).
In the new study, people with these two critical types of bacteria were more likely to have a more diverse array of good bugs in the stomach——and more likely to have all the benefits that come with it.
(In some cases, to fight or prevent specific conditions or infections, you will need specific strains of bacteria; a naturopathic-oriented physician can help you figure it out.)
BOOSTER #3: PREBIOTICS
If you want to keep the bacteria in your gut healthy, happy and swarming to your defense, you need to feed them. That’s where prebiotics come in.
These aren’t different types of probiotics, as most people assume, but certain types of fiber that you can’t digest... but the bacteria can.
Now, some people will tell you to just load up on any old fiber, but that’s a hunk of... well... the stuff fiber’s supposed to produce, because the best prebiotics aren’t nasty whole grains and throat-clogging celery sticks.
They’re the foods you love——foods that make great snacks, like berries and bananas, as well as foods such as onions and garlic that can add zest to any meal.
But the best prebiotic of all might not be any of that. It might not even be a food at all.
It’s red wine!
Turns out the good bugs in your belly love the polyphenols in red wine as much as you do——so go ahead and fill your glass. But I’m not recommending “carton wine.” Splurge a little and buy the best wine you can afford.
Raise it...and raise it high, and make a toast to those friendly little critters in your belly.