Mar 192014

We all like to think of ourselves as thriving individuals. But, we aren’t alone, nor can we exist without the help of others. I’m not talking about help from other humans, but help from the bacteria in your gut or your gut flora.

Results of new research by the Louisiana State College of Agriculture presented at the recent meeting of the American Chemical Society in Dallas, shows how the “good” bacteria in your gut helps your digestive system absorb antioxidants. Antioxidants that help your body fight cancer and prevent heart disease. The type of antioxidants you find in foods like green tea, cocoa powder, and in the skins of dark grapes, blackberries, apples and cherries.

These beneficial bacteria digest the large antioxidant molecules, called polyphenols and catechin, and break them down into more easily digested, and smaller antioxidant molecules. It’s these smaller molecules that’s absorbed into your bloodstream, where they begin their journey acting as disease fighting antioxidants.

One of the more common and more effective “good” bacteria in your gut flora is Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum). It’s this bacteria more so than the others that helps your body absorb antioxidants and fight diseases.

One of the best ways to increase the population of “good” bacteria like B. longum is to feed it prebiotics that help this bacteria thrive. They love to eat fiber our bodies have a hard time digesting. They love fiber in foods like cocoa powder, chicory root, artichokes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic bananas, leeks, asparagus, oats and legumes. By developing a large population of “good” bacteria in your gut, you also help wipe out the “bad” bacteria that can cause digestive problems and intestinal diseases.

We can’t stay healthy alone. We need these little creatures in our intestines to help us stay healthy. Not only do they help break down food in our gut, but they also make it possible for our body to absorb disease fighting antioxidants. So help develop a large colony of bacteria like B. longum by frequently drinking hot chocolate made from cocoa powder or chicory tea along with a meal of sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, bananas, leeks, asparagus, oats or legumes.