In our last installment we talked about how supplemental digestive enzymes can be an effective aid for restoring digestive health. We also talked about how your pancreas is designed to produce these enzymes in the right amours to ensure proper digestion. Complete breakdown of food in the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum, is essential to establish the proper conditions for further assimilation along the rest of the small and large intestine. A lot of this further work is performed by specialized bacteria in the gut, so called “probiotics”, who like their living arrangements a particular way. If these aren’t established then their colonies fail to thrive and digestive problems can arise.
Although the digestive tract is full of all sorts of bacteria and yeasts, some of them are considered “good” and some are not. This is a bit of an oversimplification because the biome, which is the collection of all microorganisms, has evolved to work together as a team. Even the dreaded Candida Albicans has a purpose in your gut; it is a potent scavenger of heavy metals and helps eliminate these toxins from the body. However, the balance must be such that the Probiotic (which means Pro-life) bacteria should outnumber the so-called “bad” bacteria and fungi in a roughly 80/ 20 ratio. Although everyone, including the western medical community, seems to suddenly be talking about Probiotics, the knowledge of beneficial bacteria and the need to promote a healthy ratio is not a new concept. Traditional cultures from across the world have included fermented foods as a daily dietary supplement as far back as the beginning of recorded human history. Foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chee, miso, kefir, and pickles of all types were traditionally fermented items teeming with beneficial microbes. If people of ancient times understood the need to regularly supplement the digestive system with beneficial bacteria, how much more important is it today with our chlorinated water and abundant toxins in our food? Regular supplementation can be done with a store bought probiotic pill, which is often necessary to boost values quickly. But regularly supplementing the large and small intestines with friendly bacteria from fermented foods is a natural and inexpensive way to get these good bugs into your daily diet. Be sure to check back next week for another Digestive Health tip.