You might not think of bacteria as being "good," but you need billions of these microscopic organisms to help fight off harmful types of bacteria. Your body has almost 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. Most of the bacteria renting space in your body are "friendly" organisms that help digestion, boost immune strength and play a role in growth and development. Adding certain foods to your daily diet can help to encourage these beneficial bacteria to move into your intestines and other areas of your body for optimum health.
Add yogurt to your daily diet. Most yogurt varieties contain healthy bacteria that move into your intestines and help suppress harmful bacteria communities. Yogurt is made with "friendly" types of bacteria such as lactobacillus, acidophilus and bifidus. Choose low-fat varieties that do not contain added sugar and artificial flavorings.
Eat more fermented foods such as sauerkraut sausages and pickles -- a healthy combination for a hot dog. These foods are fermented with bacteria that have beneficial properties for your health. Also sip a bowl of miso soup, which is made from fermented soy that is rich in healthy bacteria.
Sprinkle vinegar onto your salads, soups and stews or add a teaspoon to water and drink it as a tonic. Vinegar, particularly unfiltered, organic types, contains healthy bacteria that help get rid of harmful bacteria.
Make a kefir smoothie or milkshake. Kefir is a fermented milk product that contains healthy bacteria. You can also find it in ice cream and other foods. Flavor the smoothie with fresh fruits such as raspberries, blueberries or bananas to add fiber and other nutrients.
Add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. These foods contain dietary fiber that slows digestion and a natural type of sugar that improves the growth of healthy bacteria in your intestines. Eating these foods raw or slightly cooked with the peel on when possible increases fiber in your diet.
- MayoClinic.com: Bacteria's Connection to Health and Weight
- BBC GoodFood: Yogurt
- Shape.com: 5 Good-for-You Foods With Healthy Bacteria for Your Stomach
- MayoClinic.com: Are Probiotics and Prebiotics Important for Health?
- MayoClinic.com: Foods That Contain "Good" Bacteria May Provide Health Benefits
- Scientific American: How Bacteria in Our Bodies Protect Our Health
- Your body naturally contains "good" bacteria; however, eating a balanced daily diet that includes vegetables, fruit and other foods will help support these healthy bacteria to flourish and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Some medications such as antibiotics can diminish the growth of healthy and harmful bacteria, leading to digestive upset and diarrhea. Take these medications only under the supervision of your doctor.
- Foods that are marketed as "probiotic" are not clinically proved to improve the communities of healthy bacteria in your body; add foods that are naturally rich in these types of bacteria to your daily balanced diet.
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.