Gut Flora Balance is Key to Health
Gut flora balance is absolutely critical for good digestion, toxin elimination and optimal energy levels. The digestive tract is loaded with trillions of microorganisms that form a natural ecosystem commonly called the gut flora. Certain lifestyle stressors throw off the natural symbiosis and cause a rise in pathogenic microbes, chronic gut inflammation and damage to the gut lining. Healthy gut flora balance is a key health essential.
The beneficial gut flora balance work to digest our food and produce enzymes that metabolize protein into amino acids that can be absorbed. These key enzymes also transport key vitamins, minerals and other nutrients through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream where they are effectively carried to cells that are in need of these nutrient packages (1).
What Does Your Microflora Do For You?
These beneficial species also help the body produce and metabolize vitamin K2, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folate & pantothenic acid. Without adequate microflora production the body will suffer from poor calcium metabolism, neuromuscular function and chronic inflammatory conditions due to deficiencies in these very important nutrients (2, 3, 4).
1. Nutrient Absorption – You cannot digest and absorb nutrients effectively without the right gut flora balance
2. Toxin Metabolism – You cannot effectively breakdown, metabolize and eliminate environmental chemicals without the proper gut flora balance
3. Immune Regulation – You cannot produce a healthy and well-coordinated immune response without a healthy gut flora balance
Two Arms of the Gut Flora
The gut flora has two major arms. The first arm senses our environment by reading the environmental toxins that are coming into the body. When these environmental factors such as dust, chemicals, animal hair & pollen fall on the mucous membranes the progenic bacteria sense and react to them. The second arm is responsible for immune activation & inflammatory based reactions (5, 6, 7)
When the first arm is damaged the second arm begins to become hyperactive which leads to autoimmune reactions. Depending upon the genetic tendencies of the individual this can result in asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s or Graves thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, etc (8, 9)
Contaminants Destroy Gut Flora Balance:
Antibiotics are the most lethal thing for our microbial balance. After a round of anti-biotics it will take at least four to eight weeks to reestablish the gut. This time period is an opportunistic window for parasites to establish themselves on the gut wall.
Eating conventional meat, dairy and poultry products can be as dangerous as taking anti-biotic prescriptions due to the amount of anti-biotics present in these products. This is a hidden way that many people are insulting their gut flora. Be sure to stick with organic animal products in order to avoid these dangerous chemicals.
Avoid Sugars and Medications:
Foods high in sugar and processed carbohydrates increase the number and variety of different strains of Candida in the body. These foods also promote the growth of parasitic microbes and worms in the gut environment.
Medications of all types including contraception pills and corticosteroids are extremely hazardous to the gut flora. Dental fluoride treatments and fluoride based toothpaste are damaging to the microbial balance. Chlorinated water is particularly dangerous as it sterilizes our gut and repeated exposure destroys the progenic bacteria in the gut (10).
Fermented Foods for a Healthy Gut Flora:
A diet high in fermented veggies and drinks such as coconut water kefir, ginger beer, raw sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi help restore microbial balance. Fermented, raw dairy from organic grass-fed cows and goats can be outstanding for gut health.
This would include amasai, raw cheese and fermented whey. These are some of the best probiotic carriers and have been used for thousands of years by healthy cultures all over the world. If you have severe leaky gut and auto-immunity, be careful to add these as you may have a food sensitivity to the dairy proteins.
Other great probiotic rich foods include coconut yogurt, coconut milk kefir and beet kvass. Additionally, growing your own food or buying it fresh from a farmer’s market is especially advantageous as it will have natural soil on it. The soil contains humic and fulvic acids that help to detoxify the body and natural microbes that help to strengthen our gut microbiome.
The rest of the diet should be rich in good fats such as coconut, grass-fed ghee (clarified butter), avocados, olive oil and sprouted nuts and seeds. Clean animal foods such as grass-fed beef, organic poultry and eggs are highly recommended. Probiotic supplements are especially important to speed up the restoration of the gut flora and maintain balance afterwards.
Including lots of prebiotic rich foods such as asparagus, leeks, carrots, garlic, onions, radishes, jerusalem artichoke and jicama will help to strengthen your gut flora. Look to use at least 3 of these each day in various meals. Add in lots of dark, green leafy veggies and herbs such as oregano, thyme, basil, turmeric, rosemary and ginger with each meal. These nutrients help to create gut flora balance and good digestive function.
Intermittent fasting for periods of 12 – 24 hours daily can be especially beneficial for regulating the gut flora. These fasting periods should include lots of fluids and fermented drinks that bring enzymes, probiotics and organic acids into the gut environment.
Longer cleansing periods with fermented drinks are recommended from time to time. This cleansing process is extremely important for individuals suffering with disorders involving chronic gut inflammation.
Ten Steps for a Healthy Microbiome:
1. Avoid Processed Foods and Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Processed foods contain dangerous environmental chemicals that alter the microbiome and favor the development of bad bacteria and yeast species.
2. Drink Filtered Water: Only drink water that has been filtered – ideally through a high quality carbon filter or even better through a reverse osmosis system system.
3. Consume Lots of Small and Medium Chain Fats: Small chain fats such as butyric acid and medium chain fats like caprylic and lauric acid are powerful support for the microflora. You find butyric acid in grass-fed butter and ghee and caprylic/lauric acid in coconut oil.
4. Anti-Microbial Herbs: Some herbs such as oregano, thyme and basil help to kill off bad microbes and favor the development of healthy microbes. Consume these generously on a daily basis.
5. Practice Intermittent Fasting: Go a minimum of 12 hours between meals overnight. Try to work your way to 16-18 hour daily fasts. Be sure to drink as much clean water as possible in order to flush your system and save off hunger.
6. Drink Coffee or Tea with Butter: Coffee and herbal teas contain powerful anti-oxidants that favor the development of a healthy microbiome. Be sure to get organic varities and use grass-fed butter/ghee and coconut oil in them in order to get more small and medium chain fats.
7. Use a High Quality Probiotic Supplement: Taking a high quality probiotic on a daily basis is especially beneficial to improve your gut health. I recommend Probiocharge as a general wellness probiotic and SBO Probiotic for challenging digestive health conditions.
8. Consume Healthy Prebiotic Foods: This includes dark green leafy veggies, asparagus, leeks, carrots, onions, garlic, radishes, artichokes and jicama. Include these in your daily diet. If you have an increase in gas and bloating consider reducing certain FODMAP groups. Read this article for more info.
9. Move Your Bowels: You should be having 2-3 solid bowel movements daily in order to flush out all the food you consumed the day before. You want to eliminate food waste with a 12-24 hour period or the material becomes a breeding ground for bad microbes. If you are having trouble with bowel motility, follow all of these steps and drink extra water and add in 10 grams of L-glutamine daily.
10. Gut Repair Powder: If you are struggling with leaky gut issues, consider using Gut Repair Powder and/or a straight L-glutamine powder (if you struggle with Aloe Vera, DGL and arbinogalactan fibers). I do often recommend 20+ grams of L-glutamine to support individuals recovering from severe leaky gut syndrome.