Ways to Grow Beneficial Bacteria & Improve Digestion

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: Bacterial Balance, Digestive Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Learn which foods and supplements help increase the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system

There always have been, and always will be, bad bacteria that call our bowels home—and that's okay. The main objective in restoring bacterial balance to the digestive system is not to eliminate the bad bacteria residing there, but to increase the presence of the beneficial bacteria. Luckily, there are a few very simple, yet very effective ways to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, which will in turn ease many types of digestive discomfort and, in general, boost overall health.

Eat Traditional Fermented Foods Regularly

One of the best things you can do to enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system is to regularly eat foods that contain lots of friendly probiotic bacteria—specifically traditional fermented foods.

Traditional fermented foods are bursting with beneficial lactic acid bacteria, which are the friendly organisms responsible for the fermentation process in the first place. Lactic acid bacteria are what naturally make milk products go sour and vegetables ferment. So, a few examples of traditional fermented foods include pickled vegetables, fermented milk products, kefir, and fermented soy products. I find the best way to regularly include fermented foods in your diet is to make your own yogurt and ferment vegetables yourself. And remember: When adding traditional fermented foods to your meals, the key is to eat a small portion of them on a very regular basis. Once or twice daily with meals is best.

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Consider Taking a Probiotic Supplement

Although eating fermented foods is the most natural way to get probiotic benefits, many people find it difficult to do on a consistent basis. An effective alternative is to take a probiotic supplement. But—and this is a big one—you must get the right probiotic supplement. That's because most of the beneficial bacteria in many probiotic products may not survive long enough to reach you—or, more specifically, your gut. Before you buy a probiotic supplement, check out my advice on which probiotic supplements are best and which strains of beneficial bacteria offer the most digestive health benefits.

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Try Lactic Acid Yeast Wafers

Lactic acid yeast wafers work the same way lactic acid-fermented foods do, in that they help re-establish the bacterial flora of the lower bowel. If you begin to include traditional fermented foods in your diet, you probably won't need the wafers—but the wafers can sure come in handy when you're traveling. Lactic acid yeast wafers can be purchased online and through health care professionals who carry Standard Process products.

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These three simple strategies will go a long way in helping reestablish the proper bacterial balance between the beneficial bacteria and bad bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract, thus boosting the overall health and functioning of your digestive system. But if you are suffering from a specific digestive condition, search my site for more targeted treatment recommendations.

More Dr. Williams Advice on Digestive Health and Beneficial Bacteria

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