Healthy bacteria reside in everybody’s colon, and in return for food and a warm place to live these resident bacteria contribute to your health. One of the most intestinal-friendly resident bacteria is the family of lactobacteria, so-called because they thrive on lactose sugars. The resident germ you will read most about is Lacidophilus, which means “acid- loving,” because these organisms grow best in an acidic intestinal environment. Here are some healthy things these bacteria do for your body:
1. Improve digestion. Lactobacteria, as the name implies, help digest the lactose in dairy products, preventing lactose overload, and lessening problems with lactose intolerance. Lactobacteria also help with the absorption of valuable nutrients and stimulate peristalsis, the movement of food through the intestines that leads to regular bowel movements.
2. Manufacture vitamins. Like rich soil grows vitamin-rich foods, lactobacteria produce B-complex vitamins, along with vitamin K.
3. Manufacture nutrients. Friendly bacteria help manufacture essential fatty acids called short chain fatty acids (SCFA). These are valuable nutrients for intestinal cells and also produce cancer-fighting substances.
4. Boost immunity. Lactobacteria inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi, such as candida (yeast). They help keep the intestinal environment acidic and compete with harmful bacteria and the toxins they produce. They even produce hydrogen peroxide, which has a natural antibiotic effect.
5. Protect against carcinogens. Lactobacteria bind potential carcinogens, preventing them from damaging cells. L.bulgaricus, the main lactobacillus used in yogurt, has anti-tumor properties. Specifically, lactobacteria bind heavy metals and bile acids, which are potential carcinogens. These bacteria inhibit the growth of nitrate-producing bacteria (nitrates can be a carcinogen). They also metabolize flavanoids, producing natural anti-tumor substances.
6. Protect against cardiovascular disease. Lactobacteria help regulate cholesterol and tryglyceride levels in the blood.
Be kind to the bugs in your bowels. They do good things for you.
NUTRITIP: YOGURT FOR BREAKFAST
A nutriperk in yogurt could theoretically improve school performance by perking up the brain. Yogurt is relatively high in the amino acid tyrosine (a neurostimulant) and low in the amino acid tryptophan (a neurosedative). Add yogurt to other brain foods, such as flax oil (for brain-building fatty acids) and soy foods (for protein and blood-sugar stabilization), and you have three synergistic foods that form the basic ingredients for our School-Ade recipe. I have personally felt the effects of this nutriperk by drinking a smoothie with these three basic ingredients each morning before I go to work. (See Brainy Breakfasts)