There is a newfound awareness that gluten found in wheat and most processed foods can cause a variety of symptoms, and there is an emerging use of probiotics to improve gut health – largely without the input of medical doctors. In his new book The Happy Gut, Dr. Vincent Pedre argues that chronic health problems can in some cases be traced to a dysfunctional digestive system, which can be quelled through a variety of lifestyle behaviors that nurture the microbiota, the internal garden of microbes that resides in the gut.
A New York City gastroenterologist, Dr. Pedre estimates that around 70 million Americans suffer from some sort of gut issue, including irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. An imbalance between the good and the bad bugs in the gut causes many people ongoing distress. The bad bugs include bacteria, yeast and parasites (parasites are commonly found in imported fruit and vegetables and are difficult for most physicians to diagnose). Symptoms of poor gut health can include fatigue, migraines, allergies and asthma.
Dr. Pedre recommends experimenting with a diet free of gluten, dairy and soy. He advocates a diet mainly comprised of plants, with small amounts of organic meat. He is also an advocate for the use of cultured foods to help nurture the good flora in the gut, such as yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables like kimchi, or a fermented probiotic drink like kombucha. Fermented foods help to promote a healthy, balanced gut flora, according to Dr. Pedre.