The beneficial bacteria that live in our intestines are hugely important to our health. I would always recommend you try to improve your gut health with a whole foods approach if you can. That means:
- Eating plenty of starchy and non-starchy vegetables to provide adequate fibre for the good bacteria to feed on.
- Eating fermented foods daily such as sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, kimchi etc.
- Consuming resistant starch and other prebiotic fibres, from whole foods (and possibly additional fibre supplements).
I drink a pint of homemade raw kefir every morning to make sure I get a good supply of probiotic bacteria. Kefir also contains beneficial yeasts. For many of us however, a probiotic supplement is also probably a good idea, as most of us have disrupted our microbiome over the years through eating the wrong foods and taking antibiotics, among other things. I have recently taken a 6-day course of Elixa Probiotic, a high-strength, short-course probiotic containing 9 beneficial strains of bacteria.
For maintenance of gut health a probiotic supplement can be very helpful. However, good brands of probiotics tend to be expensive. The best value is probably Bio Kult which you can buy on Amazon. It contains 14 strains of probiotic bacteria and is only about £10 for 60 capsules. This is the brand I use as the probiotic for making homemade yogurt too. This is not a soil-based probiotic and a lot of research suggests that optimal results will be achieved with a soil-based probiotic.
Excellent (but pricey) brands of soil-based probiotics are:
- Prescript Assist – 29 strains of probiotic microflora Soil-Based-Organisms (SBOs). Prescript-Assist is a broad-spectrum formula that contains 29 different strains of beneficial microflora — not just one or two. That means it better reflects the great microbial diversity of the intestines vs typical probiotic products. Available in the UK via amazon.co.uk.
- Equilibrium – this is a new product containing 115 strains. 1 Billion CFU from 115 strains, including 85 no other probiotic supplement offers.It is available to order online direct from the manufacturer General Biotics http://orders.generalbiotics.com/orders/new and they ship worldwide. This is the brand I currently take (July 2015).
- Mark Sisson’s Primal Flora is another excellent product http://www.primalblueprint.com/supplements/primal-flora/
- Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra – this contains 13 species of beneficial cultures including soil-based probiotics. Available in the UK via amazon.co.uk.
- Another probiotic that is recommended is AOR Probiotic-3. Available in the UK via amazon.co.uk.
- Further Reading: Super High Strength Probiotics
With probiotic supplements it is beneficial to rotate the types you use so you could try a few of the different brands over a few months and see which ones suit you.
Eat probiotic rich foods, daily if you can. Try to incorporate as many of these foods and drinks as possible:
- Sauerkraut – needs to be raw/unpasteurised. Raw Health brand is sold on www.ocado.com. Add to salads, eat at breakfast, eat with cold meats, etc.
- Coconut kefir – Rhythm Health UK sell a raw/unpasteurised coconut milk kefir. Add it to your smoothies or simply drink straight. You can buy it online (https://www.rhythmhealth.co.uk/where-to-buy/) and in Holland & Barratt. If you tolerate it you could include fermented dairy – cows or goats milk kefir can be a valuable addition to your diet. I used to buy organic, raw (unpasteurised) cow’s milk kefir from my local farm shop but I managed to get hold of some kefir grains and now make my own (which is really easy to do) and try to drink a pint every day.
- Coconut yogurt – ideally make your own using additive-free coconut milk or buy the CoYo brand or The Coconut Collaborative brand, or make your own dairy yogurt using cow’s or goat’s milk.
- Kombucha – make your own or buy the Love Kombucha brand from www.perfectlypaleo.co.uk
- Lacto-fermented mayonnaise/lacto-fermented garlic mayonnaise.
- Fermented salsa – I buy the Cultured Probiotics brand from Red23: http://www.red23.co.uk/RAW-Organic-Salsa-Relish-420g_p_2842.html, it’s great with burgers and cold meats.
- Miso – Clearspring Organic Brown Rice Miso is unpasteurised and available from www.ocado.com. This is made from soy and is one of the few ways that I do include soy in my diet.
- Listen in to Eat Better – Episode 4 where Tommy and I talk to Chris Kelley of Nourish Balance Thrive about gut health.
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