We hear in the news all the time about the things we should eat and the things we need to avoid, but often times we don’t really get the information of why we should and why we shouldn’t be consuming foods. Let’s end this mystery on probiotics.
If you have heard that probiotics are in yogurt, then you are correct. However, there are some stipulations to this and we will cover that. Probiotics are in some other food sources as well such as sauerkraut, kefir (liquid yogurt), kombucha (fermented tea), miso soup, pickles, and more. Most of these foods rich in probiotics have either never been heard of or are a challenge for people to get used to.
I personally am a big fan of kombucha tea, which is sold at most grocery stores now. There are lots of flavors and many different brands to choose from. This tea does take the average person a little bit to get used to because of the taste and bacteria floating around, but once you reap the benefits of this yummy drink you will not question it any longer. One thing to note is that when it comes to yogurt, there is not as much beneficial probiotics as most people think. This is because most yogurts consumed have added sugars, which kill off the bacteria. It would be better to get a plain yogurt and add fruit onto the snack instead.
When you’re born your immune system is quite weak and your intestinal tract has little to no bacteria. As you begin to consume food, especially your mother’s milk, you begin to build beneficial bacteria that help build up your healthy immune system. This is just one of the many benefits of breastfeeding for babies. This good bacteria continues to build throughout our lives to create up to 3 lbs of weight from intestinal flora (aka: good bacteria).
There are things that can happen as you go through your life that can change that healthy flora in your intestinal tract. One of the biggest culprits that destroy the healthy gut flora is antibiotics. While antibiotics fortunately kill the bad bacteria making us sick, they unfortunately also kill the good bacteria as well. While in our society antibiotics are commonly the bad guy to blame, there are other things that can cause the problem such as acid blockers, antacids, antivirals, estrogen dominant oral contraceptives, most prescription medications, extreme protein deficiency, excess fiber, intestinal acidity, metals, and more. When the good bacteria are diminished you could experience constipation, diarrhea, gas heartburn, ulcers, increased risk of colon cancer, increased occurrence of yeast infections and more.
A great analogy for the healthy flora and antibiotics is found in the book, “Drug Muggers”, which uses a forest fire to explain antibiotics. The forest is healthy and flourishing, but suddenly a forest fire comes in destroying the trees. Luckily the fire has also destroyed the diseases that have spread across the region. The forest is now rid of the disease, but also missing essential pieces that once made it a lush, thriving forest.
The best way and fastest way to rebuild the forest is to help plant young trees that overtime will build the forest into what it once was. This is the story of our healthy gut and antibiotics. The antibiotics get rid of the bacteria that are making us sick, but also destroyed a lot of the good bacteria. We can help our body by “planting” good bacteria in the form of probiotics in our “forest” to help our gut thrive again and allow the normal body functions to occur.
Probiotics are supplements that everyone could benefit from. They contain many strains of bacteria with the most common being Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. There are places like Whole Foods and Natural Grocers that have a lot of probiotic options to choose from. For general health taking 10-40 billion CFU (colony forming units) each day on an empty stomach is suggested. Due to the interactions most medications, it is also suggested to take 4 hours away from medications. If you have a problem you are trying to heal, then the dosage and times taken each day will increase.
Source: Drug Muggers by Suzy Cohen
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