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What’s a Gut Microbiome?

When people talk about the “microbiome,” they are talking about the collective microbial environment in the gut, or the gut biome.  I refer to this as the gut biome or the gut microbiome, both are the same in this post.  Basically, in lay terms, the gut biome is all the bacteria and microorganisms in the gut. The gut biome in current thinking may hold many answers for causes of disease, and may hold out the promise of new treatments for many diseases. Treatments range from special diets recommended to alter the bacteria in the gut biome, to a fecal transplants to replace all the gut bacteria with healthier bacteria.

I have been concerned with the health of the gut microbiome and the yeast Candida albicans for almost 30 years and have been writing about this for more than 20 years. However, I am concerned that the current popular advice is wrong. That advice has a general approach of dividing foods into prebiotic and probiotic foods. Prebiotic foods are foods such as vegetables containing fiber which will feed the “good” bacteria. Probiotic foods are foods such as fermented vegetables which supposedly contain the “good“ bacteria. There are also probiotic supplements.

In theory this might be a good idea, but it doesn’t work. Let’s look at some of the foods that people think can help the gut biome, and why they don’t help.

Fermented Vegetables Make the Gut Microbiome Worse!

Eating vegetables with fiber is a great idea. Is eating fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables, a good idea?

To answer this question, we need to look at the whole gut microbiome and one other major factor in the gut microbiome which has been ignored, .the yeast Candida albicans.  I’m surprised that more articles don’t discuss this yeast.   

Candida albicans comes into the gut especially after a person takes antibiotics. The antibiotics kill both the bad bacteria, like strep, and the “good bacteria.”  People use the term “good bacteria,” meaning the healthy bacteria in the gut. Many people believe that all bacteria are bad—which is not true.   Antibiotics don’t distinguish between good and bad bacteria. Killing the bacteria leaves space for Candida albicans to flourish. This is bad. Candida albicans is not a normal resident of our gut biome. It makes toxic chemicals which further kill the remaining good bacteria. Candida albicans also disrupts the immune system and can cause immune dysfunction and immune diseases, all from inside the gut.  I explain why this is, and give lots of examples, in this website and in my book, An Extraordinary Power to Heal. 

If we know that Candida is part of the gut microbiome, then we can answer the question of whether eating fermented vegetables is a good idea or not.

Academic researchers looking at fermented vegetables have looked for good things in the vegetables because they are consumed around the world, they contain some probiotic bacteria, and some special fatty acids, called short chain fatty acids. If they have so much good stuff, and taste good, they must be good, right?

Unfortunately not. There are no studies showing that eating fermented vegetables is good for health. There are no studies comparing populations of people who eat fermented vegetables to those who do not. Diet is very complicated to research as a whole on groups of people. Instead researchers focus on certain factors which are easier to isolate. So short chain fatty acids may be helpful in the diet for the gut, but is this is not all fermented vegetables contain.

Besides some of the good stuff mentioned above, fermented vegetables contain bad stuff. The process of fermentation leads to the production of many toxic chemicals such as toxic alcohols, acetone and hydrogen sulfide. What do these toxic chemicals do? These chemicals all affect the brain, making it not work right. They cause headaches. These toxic chemicals also kill bacteria, the good bacteria. What does that do? Killing the good bacteria makes room for other problematic microorganisms such as the yeast Candida albicans.  

So what I’m pointing out is that the bad toxic chemicals in fermented vegetables counter balance and outweigh the few good things. Eating fermented vegetables will make Candida in the gut worse.

Why is this bad? I explain throughout this website how Candida causes major health problems.  You can click on our home page and see lists of all of the health conditions related to problems with Candida albicans, A-Z. 

This effect far outweighs anything good that fermented vegetables have. The “good healthy” bacteria of the gut microbiome cannot clear the Candida once it is there.

Apple Cider Vinegar is Bad for the Gut Microbiome

Many people think that apple cider vinegar will cure their gut biome problems. This is wrong. Apple cider vinegar is also bad for the gut microbiome. All kinds of vinegar contain chemicals which kill bacteria, “the good bacteria”, and leave the yeast Candida albicans alone.   This is why vinegar is used in bread making. Vinegar kills bacteria and leaves the yeast alone in the bread dough as it rises. Apple Cider Vinegar has the same problems. Use it for cleaning, but don’t drink it.  To see more, read my post on Apple Cider Vinegar. 

You can also watch my video on why you shouldn’t eat vinegar.

What  foods should you avoid to help your Gut Microbiome?

First, you should AVOID anything fermented. I know, this goes against the popular bloggers, but keep in mind that I have been studying this and treating patients for almost 30 years. Fermented foods make the gut biome worse because they make the yeast Candida albicans worse. Vinegar also makes the gut microbiome worse.

Should you take probiotics? Unfortunately, you cannot buy the “good bacteria”.   The really good bacteria all grow with very low levels of oxygen and are not for sale. But you can avoid foods which contain chemicals which kill the good bacteria.  You guessed it, I have a whole post on probiotics.

What foods should you avoid? The worst chemicals are found in foods such as alcoholic beverages, all vinegar and all foods which contain vinegar, pickles, and fermented sauces such as soy sauce. Malt (barley malt, malt syrup, malt extract) is processed to feed yeast for making beer; it does the same thing in your gut, makes the yeast grow.

What foods should you eat to help your Gut Microbiome?

Once you get rid of the bad foods, you should eat good foods to repopulate your gut biome and you should get rid of the Candida albicans that may be growing in your gut. I explain how to do this on another page, which you can find by clicking here, or looking in our Feast Without Yeast. Following this diet will help your gut microbiome.