|Sauerkraut. Source: Bdubay|
How can we avoid developing harmful compositions of gut bacteria, in order to prevent cancer and other illnesses? Well, many people do not actually do the most effective way to prevent infections that may require antibiotic treatment: washing their hands! In a study from Michigan State University, only 5% of people washed their hands correctly. "Correctly" means to wash your hands for 15-20 seconds, using soap and water. Fifteen percent of men and 7% of women did not wash their hands at all. Half of all men used soap, while just over three-quarters of women did. You can also strengthen your intestinal bacteria, and by extension your immune system, with probiotics or fermented foods. The earliest record of fermentation comes from the Middle East in around 6000 BC, the very dawn of history, and most cultures traditionally include fermented foods in their cuisine. Sometimes, this even makes poisonous plants into nutritious foods. Lacto-fermentation encourages Lactobacillus species of bacteria to develop, which produce the lactic acid (and short-chain fatty acids!) that deters harmful species. However, when you lacto-ferment foods, salt is required to prevent putrefying bacteria. Overall, while our intestinal bacteria composition is integral to our health and protection against cancer, there are quite simple ways of maintaining it that do not necessarily call for expensive supplements.