When you get a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to get rid of it. Those antibiotics are like the good guys in an action film, attacking the enemy until they emerge triumphant. They aren’t selective though. The antibiotic soldiers attack and kill all the bacteria, good and bad.

In a healthy gut, you have a mix of good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria do the job of the antibiotics in that they keep down the numbers of bad bacteria. In other words, the more good bacteria you have, the less bad. They are, in effect, the keepers of the peace. Sometimes, it goes a bit wrong, and the bad bacteria cause an uprising.

That’s when you get ill.

The good bacteria help absorb nutrients and rid the body of nasty toxins. They play an important role in protecting the gut and digestive system in general.

How do I get more good bacteria?

It’s simple really, eat more dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps food move through your system, and it’s what keeps you regular. It also makes great food for the good bacteria. A recent study revealed Westerners consume half the recommended amount of dietary fiber, and this is having a profound effect on our gut microflora. The link with dietary fiber consumption and diseases of the Western world, such as colon cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and allergies to name a few, is well documented.

How do I get more dietary fiber into my diet?

These foods are good sources of dietary fiber:

  • Whole grains, e.g. bread, pasta, rice, quinoa and buckwheat
  • Oats
  • Lentils, pulses and beans
  • Fruit (when eaten whole, not juiced)
  • Bran

It’s not just what you don’t eat, it’s what you do eat as well

Environmental factors, antibiotic consumption,age and even genetic makeup all affect your gut bacteria levels.

However, a diet high in meat, fat, dairy and salt destroys the good bacteria in your gut.

Will probiotics help?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast in their billions, taken in pill or powder form as a dietary supplement. You will also see them added to yogurts and yogurt drinks.There is controversy as to how many of these live organisms actually reach the lower gut; however, some pill supplements are especially encapsulated to help protect the bacteria as they move through the system.

Therefore, the answer is, possibly, if you choose a good supplement, but altering your diet to increase your dietary fiber intake is a far better option to help increase your good bacteria and improve your overall health.

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