There are always raging debates about the origin of humankind, but here is one undeniable fact. You are a mobile fleshy feeding TUBE. You are a tube in as much as you have two openings, an inlet/outlet and a tunnel which is technically exposed to the outside world. This tunnel, also known as your GI tract, is not a sterile environment and is LOADED with bacteria. Seriously loaded. There are TEN TIMES the amount of bacterial cells in your GI tract than there are human cells in your entire body!!! Makes you wonder who’s in charge – are we just a complex machine designed as a way to transport bacteria?
Kidding, but I’ve heard this debate before. This is one of the reasons that at least 70% of your immune system is tucked into your innards. Welcome to the single most important terrain in the body. This relationship between us and ‘them’ is very symbiotic, totally symbiotic in fact as each of us would die without the other.
Whether by observation or insight, traditional cultures must have known about the importance of probiotics, because there is no culture which does not have a fermented food as part of their everyday diet. Lacto-fermentation creates a plate, mug or bowl full of delicious probiotic laden food which actually adds to the beneficial terrain in your GI tract. There are 1000’s of varieties of foods, some which may seriously surprise your palette! Here are some gut loving fermented foods from several different regions (this barely scratches the surface of what’s out there):
- * Japan: Miso, Kombucha, Tempeh, NattÅ
- * Korea: Kimchi, Gochujang
- * South East Asia: Atchara, Fish sauce, Oncom
- * China: Soy sauce, Lufu, Doubanjiang, Douchi, Fermented Tofu
- * India: Dosa, Idli, Dhokla, Achar, Mixed Pickle
- * Middle East: Kaymak, Doogh, Labne, Yogurt
- * Europe: Yogurt, Pickles, Sauerkraut, Kefir, Rakfisk, Skyr, Sour cream, CrÃ¨me fraÃ®che, Cheese.
- * Africa: Injera, Tapai, Mageu, Ogi, Iru
- * South America: Chicha, Pulque,
- * North America: Igunaq
- * General: Most vinegars, raw apple cider vinegar.
The most readily available in Western supermarkets are miso, fish sauce, yogurt, pickles, sour cream, sauerkraut, raw apple cider vinegar. Incorporate more of these into your diet please! If you can find raw and organic so much the better as the concentration will be much higher. So much of your health resides in the terrain of your GI tract and getting some delicious traditional foods back in there will help populate the bacterial fields of your feeding tube. If my sister happens to read this perhaps she will be so kind as to post a recipe <wink-wink> that’s wicked easy to make, and includes some of these ‘super-foods‘.
What’s in it for you? (mediocre pun intended)
- * Strengthen the immune system (A-LOT)
- * Improve digestion (A-LOT)
- * Decrease allergies and food sensitivities
- * Decrease inflammation
- * Keep harmful bacteria at bay
The alternative is supplementing with high quality probiotics. I am a quality freak when it comes to natural products. Most probiotics on the market either don’t contain live bacteria, or contain different bacteria than what is listed on the label – so don’t buy cheap bottles of dead stuff. Seroyal is one excellent brand and among the few which I trust (I have no affiliation whatsoever and Amazon sells it, so no matter where you live you should be able to get some). If you see enteric coated it means that the capsule will not dissolve in the stomach saving the lil guys from a serious gastric burn. The raw powder or non enteric capsules use a high dose militaristic theory whereby some bacteria are sacrificed as collateral, ensuring that a few make it down down down into the depths of your colon. Potato-Patato. Both ways show positive results when the bacteria are alive to begin with.
Pre-biotics are non digestible polysaccharides which feed the beneficial gut flora and stimulate their growth. You might see them listed as FOS (or XOX /GOS) along with plant sources such as inulin. They’re great and some food companies are actually trying to incorporate them into every day foods.
Healthy gut flora is a core basic treatment guideline for optimum health. Get some.
Dr. Nishant Rao is an outspoken proponent of holistic medicine. He received his medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Oregon and a Bachelors in Herbal Sciences from Bastyr University in Washington.
Dr. Nishant believes strongly in integrative medicine and a collaborative approach to healthcare as the solution to create sustainable wellness.
Having been recently uprooted from the beautiful green mountains of the Pacific Northwestern United States, he is traveling with his wife Dr. Arin Rao, also a naturopathic physician, through South East Asia and the Middle East working to increase the awareness of holistic medicine. He is involved with the next evolution of health 2.0 with partners around the world.
You can read more from Dr. Nishant at http://www.wellwire.com/
Latest posts by Dr. Nishant Rao (see all)
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- Probiotics – Extra Sauerkraut on The Hot Dog Please! - June 1, 2009
- Vitamin B12 – Clarifying Some Misinformation - May 21, 2009