This article on re-inoculation with a probiotic, is the next in a series of blog posts about the 4R program. This program is all about optimising your digestion and gut health. You can read the previous posts in the series by following the links below.
The third R in the 4R program is for reinoculate.
This blog series is about the 4R program for improving gut health and digestion. This post explains why we should Reinoculate the gut with beneficial species of microbes. As well as the best way to go about it. So that we restore and can maintain a healthy gut microbiome and improve gut health.
The healthy gut is home to trillions of bacteria. The type and diversity of which has a major influence on our health. Some species have positive effects on our health. Whilst others are harmful pathogens. There are some bacteria that are usually harmless but can become harmful in too great a number.
We know that microbes inhabit our body, at least from the moment we are born. Possibly even before that. Even after a course of antibiotics some gut bacteria still survive. The microbes that survive are without competitors. Which means any bacteria in the gut could dominate the new gut environment. Which explains the importance of reinoculating the digestive tract with helpful microbes.
So in this stage of the 4R program beneficial microbes are re-introduced. Creating the right conditions that favour the growth of beneficial species. Allowing them to predominate and resist species that may be harmful.
We know that there are many species of beneficial gut microbes, also known as probiotics. They include the species Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These microbes are often available in probiotic supplements.
Probiotic supplements help to restore and rebuild a healthy balance of gut bacteria. They help to resist colonisation of the gut by pathogenic “bad” bacteria. Not only that, they help to strengthen the gut lining and enhance the gut immune system.
Probiotic supplements can be a convenient way to kick start this process. Yet they need not be taken in the long term. We now know that certain foods in our diet nourish the gut bacteria and help them to multiply and thrive.
The foods that nourish the probiotic bacteria are called prebiotics. These are sometimes available in the same supplement as the probiotic.
Prebiotics are carbohydrates that may largely be indigestible for us. Yet our gut bacteria can digest them. So, including these dietary carbohydrates helps to increase the numbers of beneficial bacteria.
Here is a list of some foods and herbs that contain the prebiotic inulin, an oligosaccharide. A type of complex carbohydrate that feeds gut bacteria such as Bifidobacterium:
- onions and leeks
- green bananas and plantains
- jerusalem artichokes
- chicory root
- burdock root
- dandelion root
As well as nourishing your gut bacteria, there are other benefits to eating these foods. In consuming the fibre, our gut bacteria produce short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate. These acids lower the pH of the colon, which inhibits the growth of pathogens. Short chain fatty acids also provide food for the cells that line our intestines. Helping to promote gut health and prevent a leaky gut.
Another way to introduce healthful bacteria is to add fermented foods to our diet. Fermented foods contain a wide range of probiotic bacteria. These foods include the fermented dairy products such as yoghurt and kefir. As well as fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi.
In fact, supplements contain only a small number of probiotic species. Sometimes they contain only one species of probiotic. So, fermented foods likely provide a much greater diversity of probiotics than supplements.
The fourth R in the series is for Repair. This post will discuss the nutrients required to repair a leaky gut and optimise gut health. You can sign up for my monthly newsletter to be sure not to miss the next in the series.