Feeding your inner colonies: What you don’t eat may hurt you (and them)


  • You have about 5 pounds of bacteria in your digestive system and other body areas (mouth, skin, eyes, nose, etc)
  • In fact, you have more bacterial DNA and cells in your body than human DNA and cells! 
  • Your colonies are crucial for the production and absorption of nutrients (like thiamin, folate, biotin, riboflavin, vitamin K), and even brain neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine).
  • Gut bacteria like to digest the carbohydrates that you can’t and in doing so they produce butyrate (a short chain fatty acid) that actually supplies energy to the lining of the colon and helps keep colon cells healthy and possibly suppresses colon cells from becoming cancerous.
  • Keeping your inner colonies happy and healthy with what you eat can happen two ways:  by supplying healthy bacteria to the gut through probiotics (yogurt, kefir, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods that contain live bacterial cultures) and by supplying the bacteria you have with prebiotics like inulin from onion, garlic and artichokes and fiber from whole grains like whole wheat.  Another form of prebiotics is resistant starch that forms in foods like pasta and rice that have been cooked and then cooled.  Oligosaccharides from foods like legumes, fruits and vegetables are also helpful for gut bacteria.
  • We’re learning more and more about how our inner colonies keep us healthy or make us very sick.  Take care of yours and they’ll take care of you.