Food is Medicine Part II: First Do No Harm

Are you killing the good bacteria in your gut?

These three food, environmental factors and behaviors may be harming your good gut bacteria and allowing your bad gut bacteria to flourish. Avoid populating unhealthy gut bacteria by diversifying your diet, adding foods high in prebiotics and avoiding antibiotic use when possible.


Top 3 Gut Busters

  1. Lack of Diverse Diet

The diversity in the Western diet is lacking. Today, 75% of the world’s food supply comes from only 12 plants and five animal species (12).  Regions with diets rich in fiber and a variety of plant protein sources are found to have more diverse gut flora than the US and Europe. Eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can alter your gut flora profile after only a few days (12, 15, 16).

A lack of diversity within the gut bacteria limits recovery from harmful influences, such as infection or antibiotics (12, 13, 14).

  1. Antibiotic Use

Antibiotics kill bacteria caused by infections, such as urinary and respiratory, by preventing them from multiplying. A recent Post and Courier article featured the new Health America Report, published by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, showing antibiotic use declining across the United States as health care providers struggle to find drugs to treat antibiotic-resistant superbugs. “Using prescription fill rates, the new report shows antibiotic use declined 9 percent in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016. Those rates dropped even more dramatically in several South Carolina cities,” reports Sausser. (17)

This reduction of antibiotic use is particularly good news for your gut health. A single antibiotic treatment can lead to harmful changes in the composition and diversity of the gut flora. One study found that a single dose of antibiotics reduced the diversity of good bacteria and increased the number of resistant strains for up to two years (18).

  1. Lack of Prebiotics in the Diet

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that passes through the body undigested and promotes the growth of good bacteria. Prebiotic natural foods and supplements increase “short-chain fatty acids”. Short chain fatty acids promote metabolic and digestive health, reduce inflammation, reduce insulin and can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer (19).

Food High in Prebiotics:
Lentils, chickpeas and beans
Jerusalem artichokes

To understand better your individual gut health and the balance of good and bad bacteria, please schedule a nutrition consultation or a functional medicine consultation. Our highly trained team of providers is trained to diagnosis and treat common digestive symptoms that disrupt overall health. Conduct a free online health assessment or book at or book a free “Are We a Good Fit” phone call 843-375-2210.

For a refresher on good and bad bacteria, see this link to Food is Medicine Part I