If you’ve ever seen an advert for probiotic drinks and yogurts like Activia or Yakult, then you might remember how they portray the effects. After taking their morning scoop of yogurt/probiotic drink, the characters in these ads normally find themselves full of life, energy and optimism. So then the question is: is this really how it plays out? And if so, how?
What is ‘Gut Flora’?
Perhaps a better place to start would be by answering what precisely gut flora is. Specifically then, gut flora refers to the bacteria that all of us have living in our guts – and in our large intestines/colons particularly. Here, bacteria can collect over time but it’s actually good bacteria, in that it does good for the body.
Our body in fact is made up of trillions of bacteria – we have more individual bacteria in our body than we do human cells! Fortunately, the majority of this bacteria is good for us and actually helps to perform a number of functions, including:
- Combating bad bacteria by producing lactic acid
- Producing essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K
- Helping to break down food in the colon
As such, the right balance of bacteria in the gut will not only help to give you energy by helping your immune system to combat diseases but it will also enhance your energy levels by aiding with the production and absorption of powerful nutrients.
Will this result in you leaping around in the mornings with tons of energy and a huge smile on your face like in the adverts? Probably not. However it can certainly give you a boost and is definitely a worthwhile pursuit!
How to Improve Your Good Bacteria
So with that in mind, how do you go about improving your good bacteria and getting more energy as a result?
One obvious strategy is to eat probiotic foods. These are foods that contain pre-existing cultures of good bacteria and which can thus instantly support the good bacteria in your stomach.
Another tip is to eat more fibrous carbohydrates such as green vegetables. These have a better chance of making it through your digestive system and into your colon where they can act as a source of ‘food’ for that bacteria.
Eating fermented foods can also help to support good bacteria. Fermented milks for instance are very good for your digestive system.
Finally, avoid antibiotics unless they are absolutely required. While these will kill off bad bacteria, they can also be just as harmful for your good bacteria.