When I was having some health challenges I knew that it had something to do with my stomach and intestines. With the addition of adding probiotics into my body, I started feeling better within days.
Our gut is the healthline of our bodies. Our stomach and 80 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system, and a robust, well-functioning immune system is your number one defense against all disease. Maintaining a healthy gut flora is far more important than you might think.
At any point in time there are about 500 different species of bacteria living inside you – totaling about sixty trillion bacteria. Some of these bacteria are referred to as “good,” and some as “bad”. The key to good health is not to completely eradicate bad bacteria, but to maintain a healthy balance. Things like medications, diet, diseases, and your environment can upset that balance. The most common way to upset the balance of good and bad bacteria is the use of antibiotics. The good bacteria in your gut are very susceptible to damage caused by antibiotics.
When good bacteria is lacking, a number of bacteria-related health problems such as digestive upset, headaches, sluggishness, irritability, cadidiasis, and even anxiety can ensue. Good bacteria in the gut is important to keep the immune system primed to more effectively fight infection from invading pathogenic bacteria. (1)
What are Probiotics?
The term probiotics comes from the Greek word “for life.” Anti means “contrary or against.” So antibiotics means “against life.” Antibiotics kill bacteria…the bad and the good. It’s kind of like the movie line that says: ‘Kill them all and we will sort them out later!’
Most probiotics are bacteria, similar to those that occur in your gut naturally. Probiotics help keep our flora in our intestines in balance. Probiotics are essential to a fully-functioning immune system, and can be increased or restored through the intake of certain food products and supplements.
Symptoms of lack of good bacteria.
The Addition of Probiotics Are Crucial For:
Protection against over-growth of other microorganisms that could cause disease.
- Promotes mental health.
- Helps reduce diarrhea and diaper rash.
Helps digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
Builds Immune System.
Helps IBS sufferers.
Reduces negative affects of taking many types of antibiotics.
Aids in preventing and treating colon inflammation.
- Reduces lactose intolerance.
- Helps prevent yeast infections, candidasis, and vaginitis.
- Aids in digesting food.
- Helps correct and heal digestive disorders.
- Good Flora promotes the prevention of halitosis.
- Promotes anti-tumor and anti-cancer activity in the body.
How to protect you gut and bring probiotics into your diet:
I have always added probiotic supplements to my diet but then learned of the different ways of incorporating foods that build healthy flora into my body.
Fermented foods are the most effective source for providing probiotics for your system. Yogurt, sauerkraut, Kefir, Kombacha, buttermilk, and other fermented foods are the best way to get these healthy bacteria into your body.
Kefir: One of the best and least expensive ways to get healthy bacteria into your diet is to obtain raw milk and convert it to kefir. The bacteria and beneficial yeast in kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, and this makes it far superior to yogurt. For directions to making your own, go here.
Goat Milk Products: .Goat’s milk and cheese are particularly high in probiotics like thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus.
Yogurt: Look for brands made from goat milk that has been infused with extra forms of probitoics like lactobacillus or acidophilus. Some of your store bought yogurts contain sugars including fructose, corn starch, and modified corn starch. There are other questionable ingredients added for flavor and consistency. Homemade yogurt is much better for you and easy to make. I have to add honey or fruit to mine to sweeten it up. Homemade yogurt that is fermented for 24 hours, as recommended in the book ‘Breaking the Vicious Cycle‘, will have an average concentration of 3 billion cfu of yogurt. What does this mean? Well, if you were to eat a small bowl of 24 hour fermented homemade yogurt, you would receive 1.5 trillion beneficial bacteria – 100 times more bacteria than a 15 billion capsule of supplemented probiotics. Go here for a recipe for crock pot yogurt.
Sauerkraut: Last year, BBC News reported that sauerkraut could cure the avian flu (bird flu) and other studies show it reduces the risk of breast cancer. If buying commercial sauerkraut, choose high quality from the refrigerated section of your store. Best choice: make it yourself. Here is just one recipe.
Kimchi: An Asian form of pickled sauerkraut, kimchi is an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage, typically served alongside most meals in Korea. Besides from beneficial bacteria, Kimchi is also a great source of beta-carotene, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, B1 & B2. Kimchi is one of the best probiotic foods you can add to your diet, assuming you can handle the spice, of course.
The owner of a health food store told me at one time, that if she could only choose one supplement to take, it would be probiotics. As a part of your overall health care, I would say that getting probiotics in your diet should be one of your top priorities. It is a daily addition to mine.
Be happy and healthy.
Happy Stomach photo: Kenjiro Sano