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Most people mistakenly assume that all bacteria is bad. But, we have plenty of bacteria contained within our body that serve a useful and important purpose, especially within our digestive systems.

Understanding the role and function of bacteria in our bodies is important to our overall health. Bacteria are important for digestion and detoxification, and it helps our immune systems function efficiently. 

Bacteria is also important in the process of creating vitamins. The term “microbiome” is becoming more widely recognized, both in science as well as the mainstream, as people become more familiar with bacteria and how it works within the body.

According to Frank Lipman, M.D., form the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in Manhattan, learning more about microbiomes is going to be important as Western medicine moves forward. 

With more than 100 trillion microbes contained within the average digestive system, “it's important to keep your flora in a balanced state,” because "a disturbed microbiome, where bad bacteria and yeast overtake the good ones can cause all sorts of health problems from autoimmune diseases to weight gain," states Lipman.

Because the microbes contained within the gut are known to affect a person’s metabolism, several studies are underway to examine the relationship between gut bacteria balance and obesity. 

Certain types of bacteria are thought to increase the number of calories that your body will absorb from foods, and others may help contribute to weight loss and developing lean muscle mass.

Keeping a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut is critical to your overall health. When your gut bacteria is well balanced, you can often prevent the particular microbes associated with obesity and weight gain from taking control. 

Here are five tips from Dr. Lipman that can help you keep a great balance, keep a healthy weight and avoid obesity:

  • Consume pre-biotic foods! Pre-biotic foods are those foods which contain certain non-digestible fibres. Foods like root vegetabes, artichokes, nuts, oats, beans, bananas, asparagus, onions, garlic and leeks provide the right balance when certain microbes are at work.

  • Get more greens! With so many different bacterial strains to manage, it can be difficult to keep track of what you need. But, scientists do know that consuming large amounts of greens can help to increase the healthy bacteria present in your gut.

    And, the more diverse that you can make your diet, the better it will be for your health.

  • Steer clear of processed foods. Processed foods contain plenty of ingredients that you should not be putting into your body, if you are choosing a healthy lifestyle.

    Many of the additives and preservatives used will actually destroy the healthy bacteria that is present in your gut. Another problem with processed foods is that they tend to contain high levels of refined carbohydrates, which add sugar and feed the wrong bacteria—the kind you do not want, like yeast.

    Wheat and soy can often have the same effects because they are often genetically modified and will cause problems with your gut bacterial balance.

  • Avoid meat that has added antibiotics. And, avoid using antibiotics from the pharmacy unless absolutely necessary. It’s true that antibiotics can kill dangerous bacteria that makes you very sick, and sometimes you need to take them.

    But, they also kill the good bacteria that you need. so taking antibiotics more often than necessary, or consuming meat that has added antibiotics, is going to negatively affect your overall bacterial balance and your health.

  • Add plenty of probiotics to your diet. You may have noticed the more common presence of fermented products, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and other foods. These are foods that help to balance the bacteria in your body because they have naturally present probiotic compounds. Supplements may also help.

  • Thinking about bacteria should not be limited to thinking about germs! There are many types of microbes that your body needs in order to function effectively and stay healthy.