How to Restore Your Intestinal Flora

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It’s time to learn how to restore your intestinal flora the right way.  You can restore your intestinal flora (bacteria) by eating tasty foods that are good for you, and by eliminating a few others. You may be surprised to learn that the bacteria in your intestines have a profound influence on your overall health as well as a number of health concerns including:

Your gut bacteria may be out of balance if you have taken a lot of antibiotics throughout your life or you recently took antibiotics.  A single round of antibiotics has been shown to completely disrupt your intestinal flora for about 14 months.  The more antibiotics you have taken, the more likely you are to have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth which leads to irritable bowel syndrome and many digestive system problems.

Restore Your Intestinal Flora
Once your intestinal flora are out of balance, you can get them back in balance through diet.  More specifically, a low FODMAP diet for 2-6 weeks will begin to get your gut bacteria back in balance.  After you follow a low FODMAP diet, then it is time to restore your intestinal flora which takes about 4-6 weeks on average.  Let’s go through the best foods to accomplish this healing process.

Foods That Restore Your Intestinal Flora

The following foods are rich in probiotics and prebiotics which restore and feed good bacteria in your digestive system. These items are usually recommended after you have followed a low FODMAP diet, with or without ketosis, with the goal of restoring your gut flora. Try to include some probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods with each meal; these items can be consumed as snacks as well. You should really focus on these foods for approximately 4 weeks.

There is no reason to take a probiotic or saccharomyces boulardii while you are including these foods since they will provide plenty of support for your good flora.

Probiotic-rich Foods

  • *Yogurt – aim for plain yogurt so there is no added sugar and add your own ingredients such as berries, ground flax seeds, cocoa powder, nuts, unsweetened coconut flakes etc.
  • *Kefir – same guidelines as yogurt since all of the flavored kinds are filled with sugar
  • *Filmjolk – Scandinavian-style kefir, no added sugar
  • *Artisan cheeses – Blue cheese, Feta, Ricotta, Mozzarella etc.
  • *Sour cream
  • *Cottage cheese
  • Miso – paste and soups
  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Kimchi – can be very hot so go for “Mild” the first time you try it
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles – no added sugar
  • Pickled radishes, beets and corn relish

*Many people who have a problem with dairy products actually do fine with the cultured dairy products listed above.

Prebiotic-rich Foods

  • Beans – all types
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Berries – all types
  • Bananas
  • Cherries
  • Asparagus
  • Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, bok choy, Brussels sprouts.
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Nuts of all kinds but no more than one small handful a day

Additional items that will help restore your gut flora

  •     Gluten-free oats
  •     Vinegar
  •     Turmeric
  •     Green tea – preferably caffeinated

While you are restoring your gut flora it is best to continue to avoid foods that will throw your gut flora back out of balance.

These include:

  • Sugar
  • Refined honey
  • Agave
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial sweeteners – xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol
  • Fruit juice
  • Soda
  • White potatoes
  • White flour
  • Bread
  • Cookies
  • Pasta
  • Crackers
  • Cakes
  • Gluten-containing grains – Wheat, barley, rye, oats

If you have been following a low FODMAP diet then it is ok at this point to eat FODMAPs again. Don’t go overboard and keep an eye on your digestive system as you add them back into your diet. If you notice any of your digestive system symptoms returning with a particular FODMAP, then it is best to avoid it for now.

Adding foods that contain FODMAPs may require some trial-and-error to find out which ones your body still has a problem digesting.  The best long-term strategy is to include probiotic-rich foods into your daily food intake which will ensure you maintain all the progress you have made.

Restoring your intestinal flora with the right foods just may be one of the most profound steps you ever take to restoring your health.

"Dr. Hedberg is amazing to work with!  I feel so much better just four months in and keep noticing improvements as we go. Highly recommended!”

by - E.J.