Best Nutrients for Healthy Bacteria
Using nutritional methods to manage your daily exposure to bacteria and their potential harmful effects is like two sides of the same lucky coin. On one side, eating good foods can boost the levels of good bacteria that deal with the bad bacteria. On the other side, eating foods high in nutrients has been proven to boost the immune system. So if you can give your immune system the right boost and maintain the proper good/bad bacteria balance, your body will almost always be able to gain the upper hand over the bad bugs.
The powerful antioxidant nutrients vitamin E, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, folic acid, and vitamin D and the minerals zinc, riboflavin, iron, copper, and selenium naturally boost the immune system. This helps your body ward off and deal with “bad” bacteria, by destroying free radicals and their damaging effects.
The fermentation process is caused by bacteria. You can thank friendly bacteria for treats such as sourdough bread, sour cream, and sauer-kraut, which in German literally translates to “sour cabbage.” But that pickled slaw is more than just good dressing for a hot dog; it also helps to promote healthy bacteria.
Glutamine, which is very helpful for muscle strength and in fighting fatigue, has also been shown to help the production of white blood cells. White blood cells are keys to the immune system.
Catechins, such as those found in green tea, are another dietary antioxidant that helps the immune system. When it comes to resisting bacteria, catechins generate the production of hydrogen peroxide, which is probably used in your home for its antibacterial properties.
Calling All Good Bacteria
Now for the other side of the coin — increasing your level of friendly bacteria. Probiotics are the live bacterial cultures found in yogurts. They are also found in buttermilk, certain kinds of cheeses, kefir, and sauerkraut. These foods have “good” bacteria that are normally found in the digestive system, on the skin, and in the vaginal and urinary tracts. They are there to ensure the proper working of these systems and to put a stop to “bad” bacteria. Eating probiotic-rich foods helps these good bacteria increase and leaves less room for the bad bacteria.
Prebiotics are found in foods that are not able to be totally digested. That may sound like a bad thing, but it is a good thing. Prebiotics can be found in insoluble fiber foods, and they “take up space” in the digestive track and do not let bad bacteria grow. They actually help the production of good bacteria, which are called friendly flora.
Humans are a buffet for bacteria. There are bacteria that feast in the gut, the mouth, the feet, and skin. And all of these bacteria put out waste products, many of which can be smelly. Bacteria are responsible for most body odors. Rather than covering them up, you can minimize them by eating less sumptuous foods such as white bread and red meat.
Lactoferrin, a protein polypeptide found in milk and other dairy products, has been shown to be beneficial in maintaining a proper good/bad bacteria balance. In clinical studies lactoferrin seems to have an antibiotic effect and can inhibit the growth of various bad bacteria.