Healthy intestinal bacterial communities are essential to the health of the digestive tract and our overall health.  A human body is composed of about 100 trillion cells.  It is estimated that there are about 10 – 100 trillion cells of bacteria in a healthy person’s intestines.  When a person takes a course of antibiotics or goes through a bout of dysentery they are essentially losing about 10-50% of their total cells. There are about 500 different types of bacteria in the average intestinal tract 30-40 of which dominate living in harmony with other yeasts, fungi, and protozoa.

When we think of eating foods that contain probiotics we are usually referring to live bacterial cultures. Foods that contain bacterial cultures include fermented foods and drinks like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, ginger beer, miso soup, or other fermented vegetables.  Fiber is not usually thought of as a nutrient but it does in fact provide nourishment on multiple levels to multiple parties.  Not many know that soluble fiber is not actually digested by our bodies.  The fiber from vegetables and fruit cannot be broken down by us.  The good news is that beneficial bacteria like acidophilus and lactobacilli already present in the intestinal tract can and do. Soluble fiber is the main source of nourishment of these cultures. In this process, an essential fatty acid called butyrate is produced which is essential to the integrity of the intestinal lining.  Within the intestines it decreases oxidative stress, ameliorates inflammation, reinforces the epithelial defense barrier, and modulates intestinal motility.  14680773562_774e2b5efa_o

Many vegetables like raw purple cabbage, raw carrots, beets, kale, parsley, green beans, and brussel sprouts contain an amino acid called L-glutamine which has been shown initiate the signaling pathways related to amino acid metabolism of bacteria in the small intestine.  The healing effects of L-glutamine on the intestinal tract are well known.  Other amino acids essential for cell wall repair are proline and glycine. These amino acids can be found in abundance in bone broth which is rich in collagen.

When the intestinal walls are weakened and inflamed due to a lack of nourishment and an excess of toxicity they become permeable.  This process is known as intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome which is a major concern and contributor to chronic disease.  A weakened intestinal tract leads to inefficient absorption of nutrients as well as dangerous miss-allocation of toxins, microbes and proteins into the blood stream causing an inflammatory immune response. Antibiotics destroy beneficial bacteria in the gut leading to an increased probability of harmful resistant bacteria and yeast to flourish and cause infections elsewhere in the body. Healthy bacteria in the small intestine and colon help keep harmful bacterial growth in check.  15437764096_b9e96459f2_o

Soluble fiber can help feed the beneficial bacteria that help prevent leaky gut, IBS, colitis, malabsorption, as well as colon cancer.  Nevertheless, not all fiber is created equal.  Insoluble fiber cannot be broken down by you or bacteria. This type of fiber contributes to the bulk of the stool and affects the speed with which waste is eliminated. Bran and grains of different types are an example and are mostly found in the wheat family. These kinds of foods typically contain gluten proteins that contribute to malabsorption and inflammation so it is best to avoid them.   If they are refined, they will have a high glycemic index as well which causes high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and diabetes in the long run.