Should You Be Taking Probiotics?

Posted in nutrition news on Jan 10,2012

Probiotics are live beneficial forms of gut bacteria that help stimulate the natural digestive juices and enzymes that keep our digestive organs functioning properly. The human body harbors about 100 trillion bacteria, most of which live within our gastrointestinal tract (and account for approximately thee pounds of total body weight. Gut microbiota have a variety of functions such as growth and maturation of intestinal cells, priming immune cells for optimal function, producing vitamins, inhibiting gut pathogens and harvesting energy from food we don’t digest well.

Probiotics have been shown to help with digestive, immune, oral, and vaginal health. Currently, the most common use of probiotics is for digestion and immunity. A healthy digestive system is a crucial factor in ones overall health, if intestinal health is not maintained then inadequate digestion and poor absorption of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals may result as well as impairment of the immune system’s ability to fight disease.

There are many different species of probiotic bacteria that help with specific health
problems. Probiotics should be chosen based on your individual needs.

Below are some of the most common factors that affect gut microbiota:

The foods we eat play an important role in the composition of our gut. A diet high in processed foods and refined sugars can compromise the gut microbiota.

Infants and elderly experience major changes in their intestinal microbiota making the intestinal environment more vulnerable. Probiotics may be of particular importance for these populations.

Medicine, especially antibiotics, may reduce the number of microbes in the intestinal tract, resulting in a reduced ability of the gut to maintain health. This can lead to antibiotic-associated diarrhea

Traveling, change in location, low fiber diets, lifestyle habits, poor nutrition, fasting, toxins, active inflammatory conditions, long-term broad spectrum antibiotic therapy, and aging may all lead to a decrease in the number of beneficial bacteria and an increase in harmful bacteria in the intestines.

Taking a daily dose of probiotics can help strengthen your gut’s immune system and can help to prevent and treat the following issues:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea (Aad)
  • Exercise-Induced Stress
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Ibs)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ibd)
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (Sibo)
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Immunity
  • Allergy
  • Cancer

In addition to taking a probiotic supplement, you can also support your gut’s healthy bacteria count through eating these probiotic rich foods:

Kombucha Tea
This is a form of fermented tea high in healthy gut bacteria. This probiotic drink has been used for centuries and is believed to help increase your energy, enhance your wellbeing and maybe even help you lose weight.

Super-food ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chorella, and blue-green algae. These probiotic foods have been shown to increase the amount of both Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in the digestive tract.

Miso Soup
Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon of miso to some hot water makes an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup, full of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria.

A great substitute for meat or tofu, tempeh is a fermented, probiotic-rich grain made from soybeans. A great source of vitamin B12, this vegetarian food can be sautéed, baked or eaten crumbled on salads.

An Asian form of pickled sauerkraut, kimchi is an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage, typically served alongside most meals in Korea. Kimchi is one of the best probiotic foods you can add to your diet.

One of the best food sources of probiotics is live-cultured yogurt, especially handmade. Look for brands made from goat milk that has been infused with extra forms of probiotics like lactobacillus or acidophilus.

Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of goat milk and fermented grains. High in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, kefir is also rich in antioxidants. Look for a good, organic version at your local health food shop.

Made from fermented cabbage, sauerkraut is extremely rich in healthy live cultures and aids in reducing allergy symptoms.

Believe it or not, the common green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics.

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