Not all Bacteria are bad for you, with Dee Taylor, Nutritionist

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AS WE TRANSITION FROM WINTER INTO THE WARMER MONTHS AHEAD WE START TO THINK ABOUT SPRING CLEANING OUR DIETS.

In doing this, often the focus is placed on foods that will help us trim down before summer or to generally improve our diet and creating a healthy gut environment is sometimes over looked.

We need good bacteria in our digestive tract to support our digestion and help our body absorb nutrients. Probiotics are live bacteria that help to balance and maintain a healthy gut. They have been used since the early ages to provide benefit to the digestive tract and are commonly known to provide health benefits to the body by balancing gut microbiota.

One of the primary functions of these bacteria is to assist our gastro-intestinal health and support the body’s immune system. They are, however, positively known for their effects on gastro-intestinal disorders including that of bloating and gas.

Increasing our intakes of food sources that are abundant in probiotics are also linked to more positive mental health and well-being.

The strong link between our mind and the gut means that what we eat has an affect on us emotionally not just physically and out gut flora makes up a component of this connection.

FOOD SOURCES

Probiotics primarily come from fermented food sources. They are readily available in the foods we eat on a daily basis therefore if you believe your diet may be lacking in ‘good’ bacteria, it is easy to start now in improving your gut health.

Dairy, particularly yoghurt is one of the more commonly known food sources of probiotics.

As yoghurt is made from fermented milk, it is a reliable source of live bacteria that is easily accessible in our supermarkets plus tastes great!

Look for yoghurts that contain Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidus and Lactobacillus Casei.

Buttermilk is another great source as it contains live cultures. It can be used to make muffins, pancakes and pikelets.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar to yoghurt but it is made from both bacteria and yeast and is thinner in texture. It is derived from kefir grains that interact with different milk sources such as cows, coconut, rice and soy and can be found in the yoghurt section of the supermarket – it is a great tasty drink to start the day!

If you are not after a liquid or dairy based probiotic food source, why not try sauerkraut!

This fermented cabbage can be either purchased with your weekly shop or you can make it yourself. It has a distinctively sour taste and great on a sandwich or tossed through a salad.

Our gut health is not something that we should neglect, more than just digestion, increasing your ‘good’ gut bacteria is integral component of nutritional health.