How can I repopulate my gut with good bacteria?

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Patricia Feito, MD
Family Medicine
The safest way to restore gut bacteria balance is through our food intake, but some foods claiming to have probiotic benefits may not have enough of the good bacteria and may also have too much added sugar. That added sugar could actually lead to the growth of bad bacteria, causing other complications. Even foods with artificial sweeteners are problematic. Choose foods that are made with real food ingredients, like plain, low-fat yogurt with a range of only 12-20 carbohydrates per serving once a day.

To know if your yogurt is a good choice, read the ingredients and look for bacteria strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum. Or, just look for the National Yogurt Association’s Live Culture seal.

For people unable to tolerate dairy products raw sauerkraut, kombucha, miso and kimchi are recommended.

However, anything sitting in a jar on a shelf likely has been heat treated, which kills the live bacteria you’re trying to take in. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These are known as prebiotics, and they not only provide us with necessary healthy nutrients, they also nourish the good bacteria living in our gut.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Lactic acid–producing bacteria can be taken as oral supplements to help repopulate your gut with the good kinds of bacteria. (These bacteria are short lived, so you have to re-dose often.) They help with ailments ranging from too much gas to irritable bowel syndrome to a weakened immune system that tolerates gingivitis.

Lactobacilli, for example, have been used in the food industry for many years because they are able to convert sugars (including lactose) and other carbohydrates into lactic acid. This not only provides the characteristic sour taste of fermented dairy foods such as yogurt but acts as a preservative by lowering the food's pH and creating fewer opportunities for spoilage organisms to grow.

Add these to your diet: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (a Korean dish of pickled vegetables).
You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

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You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

International bestselling authors of YOU: The Owner's Manual and YOU: On a Diet give you all the tools and know-how to stay young and defy the ageing process. Drawing lively parallels between your...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.