Goal: GI health
Approach: Repair if needed; use prebiotics and probiotics
Rationale: Avoid inflammation, and the potential for provoking autoimmune responses
Good health starts with the gut. It's where your body sorts out the good stuff, like protein and vegetables, from the bad stuff like certain bacteria. A healthy gut contains trillions of microorganisms (called the microbiome), which use the food we eat to create things like vitamins and other nutrients our bodies need, and to do battle with pathogens that we are exposed to daily. Our microbiome affects our inflammatory response, our mental health and many other health-related issues. Symptoms of an unhealthy gut include diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. If the inflammation is systemic, you might also feel joint pain and brain fog.
Unfortunately, overuse of antibiotics, which have their place in the medical arsenal, has resulted in a significant rise in gut-related illnesses, by killing off good bacteria with the bad. Over time, poor dietary choices can also lead to changes in the composition of our microbiome.
Diet is certainly critical here, and food choices should not contribute to systemic inflammation. Inflammation can be triggered by trans fats, gluten, other grains, and dairy causing "leaky gut": the intestinal tract develops small holes that allow fragments of food and/or bacteria to enter the bloodstream. These can trigger an immune response by our bodies. Cyrex Labs' Array 2 can be used to diagnose leaky gut.
Although we recommend working with a health professional on gut problems, here are some steps for helping promote good gut health.
- First optimize your diet. This will help you heal inflammation and leaky gut. If you fail to remove foods that are inflammatory for you, probiotics will be another source of inflammation entering the bloodstream.
- Add Probiotics that may be missing in your gut. Fermented foods, found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, are a great source of probiotics. Dr. Bredesen recommends Lactobacillus plantarum (from kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables), Lactobacillus acidophilus (in fermented dairy), Lactobacillus brevis (from fermented sauerkraut and pickles), Bifidobacterium lactic (fermented dairy) and Bifidobacterium longum (fermented vegetables and dairy).
- Prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. They are food for the microbiome and probiotics. Foods rich in prebiotics include asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, oatmeal, onions, and legumes.
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