Nurturing Your Gut Flora

Writer Jacqueline Renée Cohen | October 29, 2014

Our body has over 100 trillion bacteria in the gut to keep us healthy. Learn how to balance the bacteria with the help of fermented foods and beverages to fortify your overall well-being.

You take careof your skin, your hair, your nails, your body. You exercise and eat well. You do yoga and meditate for your mental and spiritual health. Nothing stops you from treating every part of your body with respect and love, but there is something more you can do.You have over 100 trillion bacteria in your gut. These bacteria are responsible for many aspects of your health, both physical and mental. Treating them well is essential for your overall wellness.

Many of us have an imbalance of the bacteria in our guts. Why? Because our diet has changed over the years and we no longer eat and drink things that help balance our bacteria like fermented foods and drinks. At the same time, we increasingly do things that contribute to the imbalance of our bacteria like eating processed foods, refined flours and sugars, using chemical anti-bacterial cleaners and increased antibiotic use for both people and animals.

Over the past decade, doctors have recognised the importance of our gut health and are now often prescribing probiotics after a round of antibiotics to patients and even to pets. Probiotics help to balance the bacteria in your gut and rectify some of the damage we have inadvertently caused ourselves. Probiotics are prescribed in pill form, which are often expensive and not ‘shelf stable’, so their effectiveness declines rapidly. Probiotics in a pill are ‘new’, but as a traditional food and drink they are prevalent in the early stages of many cultures around the world – be it kimchi in Korea, sauerkraut in Europe or miso in Japan. There are even cave paintings of fermentation from 12,000 years ago!

In The Art of Fermentation Sandor Katz writes, “As early humans expanded their range, they adapted to different climates, different foods and different microorganisms, yielding wildly differing cultural particulars. Everywhere, the phenomenon of fermentation has been an important part of the story.”

Fermentation is not new to humans, but it has become buried under our mounds of processed foods, refined sugars and grains. It is an easy and delicious way to help balance the bacteria culture in our guts, as well as reconnect to our own traditional cultural foods.

Louise Buckley, a Naturopathic Doctor and Nutritional Therapist at The Body Group in Hong Kong and author of Culture Your Life: Kefir and Kombucha For Every Day Nourishment has been at the forefront of promoting natural health and the body’s own healing process from the inside out. One of the biggest contributors of this is by including fermented foods and drinks into your daily routine.