Let’s Talk About Probiotics – Part I

I’ve got probiotics on my mind – a recent very successful 7 Day Cleanse that I recently led, which was followed by many questions about probiotics, and now an infected toe for which I am taking antibiotics have kept the subject in front of me. So let’s talk about probiotics.

The Back Story

The human body is a carefully balanced system that includes 100 trillion microbes which live with us on our skin, in every body cavity and inside our entire digestive system. Probiotics, simply put, are the bacteria that are helpful in keeping our gut biome healthy. They are an amazing fighting force which compete at a basic level with harmful microorganisms also residing in our gut, most of which have been with us for years as a result of the usual suspects: processed foods, environmental toxins, ingested herbicides, pesticides, and the like. For optimum health, we need balance among all these micro organisms.

Probiotics are Important in a Healing, Health-Enhancing Diet in Several  Specific Ways.

  1. They manufacture vitamins, especially B vitamins like biotin, niacin, folic acid and B-6, that detoxify chemicals and metabolize hormones. They empower enzymes that maximize food assimilation and digestion. It’s important to always ensure their presence and replace them if they have been destroyed by a round of antibiotics (like for my aforementioned toe). Antibiotics do not discriminate about which organisms they destroy. All intestinal flora are severely diminished. For most people, poor digestion, diarrhea or constipation, flatulence, bad breath, bloating, tiredness, migraines, and even acne are a result of long antibiotic treatment.
  2. They deprive undesirable bacteria of nourishment, thus preventing their further growth.
  3. They also attack pathogens by helping to keep the body balanced between alkaline and acidic.
  4. They restore micro-organism balance in the intestinal tract, thus preventing disease, and healing infections. Even the healthiest of diets cannot keep up with the balance upset by our too-toxic lifestyle. Stress, alcohol, chemicalized foods, environmental pollutants, steroids, as well as antibiotics can easily get the upper hand in balance, ant the door opens to one infection or another.
  5. They play a key role in preventing osteoporosis, anther unfortunate result of lack of lack of friendly microorganisms in the gut.
  6. They help send food through the gut by affecting nerves that control gut movement, thus healing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome , inflammatory bowel disease, infectious diarrhea, which is caused by virus’, bacteria, or parasites, and diarrhea caused by antibiotics.
  7. They can also be helpful in other body parts, such as skin conditions, urinary and vaginal health, allergy and cold prevention, and oral conditions.

Probiotics from Foods and Supplements Are a Viable Way to Improve Health.

Begin with the Food – Always the  First Line of Defense

Most  fermented foods have probiotics and fiber – a powerhouse of good news for your digestive system. People in many cultures have been eating them for at least 5000 years. A little goes a long way with with fermented foods – just a tablespoonful or so added to a salad, for example, on most days will do wonders to not only kill the bad actors in the gut, but encourage more good ones to grow. See more about them and their benefits here. 

Raw Sauerkraut is Best!  And it may be the best choice for people taking antibiotics, and it is also effective in treating peptic ulcers, colitis, food allergies, constipation and other digestive disorders. It still isn’t a favorite thing of mine to taste, but I believe in its powers and recommend it highly whenever I can. Raw sauerkraut is a very overlooked treasure trove of nutrition and healing.

Note: The sauerkraut that Americans find in supermarkets is salted and pasteurized, (cooked), with it’s valuable bacteria (llactobacilli) destroyed.  Find effective cultured veggies instead at your health food store in the refrigerated section. It’s still not a big seller, so ask for help in finding it rather than to without.

Miso is a Japanese seasoning paste.  It is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a particular fungus. (It can also be made from rice, barley, or azuki beans.)  It is often used by spooning a bit into a soup, or adding it to some salad dressing. One miso many benefits its ability to  attract and absorb environmental toxins, such as radioactive elements in the body, and eliminate them.

Tempeh is a fermented whole soybean product that is pressed into various shaped patties and aged. It originated in Indonesia, can be used in stir-fires or marinated and grilled. It is often used as a meat substitute.

Kimchi is a traditional aged, fermented Korean side dish made with a variety of vegetables, (often including cabbage), that is both spicy and sour. (Like I said, you don’t need much to do your belly a world of good!)

Kombucha is arguably the oldest and most well known of the fermented drinks. It is a fermented tea, first brewed in China and then spread to Japan and Russia. It became popular in Europe in the early 20th century. Its sales in the United States are on the rise because of it’s reputation as a health and energy drink.

Kombucha is said to help digestion, rid the body of toxins, and boost energy and the immune system. It contains probiotics, a definite plus for the body, probably more so in the upper g-i tract than in the gut.

As well, there are other drinks on the market now which claim to be probiotic. While I enjoy and stand by the GT brand of Kombucha, I do wonder about some of the other, newer brands. If you try them, take a good look at the labels for ingredients. I have made it myself . If you’re interested in that adventure, click here.

For now, enjoy some more fermented foods. In my next newsletter/blog, I will address the subject of probiotic supplements.

Again, begin with the food! I will be increasing my intake of sauerkraut, miso, and pickles as I deal with this annoying toe!

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