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Effective Monday, July 19, 2021, the following NOH/OMG office locations will no longer provide on-site blood draws: Westlake, Lorain, Olmsted Falls and Dewhurst. Click here for the nearest lab service location. 

Gut Bacteria: What It Is and Why We Have It

April 20, 2017

gut bacteriaGut microbiota is a community of microorganisms that live in our intestines. They are unique to each of us individually, but these little bugs perform the same functions — they are specially conditioned to help our bodies. Let’s take a look at how they work.


Your intestinal bacteria helps the breakdown of your food in many ways. It breaks down carbohydrates that are typically indigestible. If you have an affinity for cheese, thank your gut bacteria for being able to eat it; our bodies can break down the sugars in dairy using a digestive enzyme called lactase.

Defend our bodies

Gut bacteria, also sometimes classified as “flora,” serve as a protective layer between our bodies and outside germs. The acidity in the stomach lining, working with the thick cells that line the intestine and antibodies, prevents invasive bacteria from making you ill.

Regulate Diet

Gut bacteria work best when they have a balanced diet of probiotics and prebiotics to help regulate the digestive system.

Prebiotic foods include:

  • Raw garlic
  • Raw or cooked onions
  • Raw leeks
  • Raw jicama
  • Acai gum

Probiotic foods include:

  • Yogurt
  • Dark chocolate
  • Pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir

Keeping a healthy diet is important to maintaining healthy gut bacteria. Other foods you can eat to improve your gut bacteria include whole grains, vegetables and fruits. It is important to avoid too many artificial sweeteners as well.

Intestinal bacteria is essential to keeping a healthy body because it affects your immune system’s ability to fight off unwanted germs and hostile bacteria, ability to break down food, and your bowel regulation (through acidity). Remember to keep a diverse yet balanced diet to help with your gut bacteria, and if you think you may have an intestinal issue, seek medical attention with your primary care doctor.

Ideas for a week's worth of healthy meals.