Maybe you've heard the phrase, "all health begins in your gut.". The gut houses a large majority of our immune system and a huge component of our neurologic system. It's said that all health problems originate in the gut so it's imperative to keep it healthy!
Enter probiotics. Probiotics are the healthy flora (yeast and bacteria) that live in your gut and make up about 80% of your immune system.
There are also unhealthy bacteria and yeast and parasites in the gut. Probiotics compete for food with these bad guys. The more probiotics in your gut, the less chances you will have of having unhealthy microbes take a hold in your gut and make you sick.
In every traditional culture, probiotic foods were abundant. Since the refrigerator was not yet invented, fermentation was used to prolong the shelf life of food. Fermentation not only preserves food, it also creates probiotics! Russian's had Kefir, Korean's ate Kimchi, German's made Saurkraut, and France did aged cheeses. There were also pickles and authentic sourdough breads. Now, we refrigerate all our food, and fermented foods have gone to the wayside.
Fermented foods are a great option for getting probiotics into your daily diet. Kombucha is my favorite!
So what do probiotics do?
- Boost immunity.
- Aid in cellular repair.
- Combat allergies.
- Fight gut-related issues like excema, IBS, and food poisoning.
- Help the body absorb nutrients like B12 and Essential Fatty Acids.
- Protect against infections from parasites, bacteria, fungus, cancer and heavy metals,
- Modulate immune and inflammation responses.
- Support intestinal function.
How to find a probiotic
Not every probiotic or probiotic enhanced food is good. While I'm all for getting your nutrients from you diet and not always from supplements, not all probiotics enhanced foods are worth it. For instance a super sugary yogurt or a kombucha loaded with added sugar is not what you want.
Some probiotic supplements also do not list the strains that are in the capsules and many companies take advantage of the consumer with their marketing.
It's hard to find a probiotic supplement that is good. Look for one that:
- Is stable. Make sure it is kept cool during the manufacturing, the shipping, and in the store as well as in your home once you purchase it.
- Says Live & Active Cultures. This is not the same as "made with active cultures". It's the different between 100% Natural Ingredients in your makeup and "made with natural ingredients".
- Has a diverse number and type of strains.
- Is high in CFU's.
The strains will each have two long names like Lactobacillus Acidophilis. The strains you will want to look for in a good, everyday probiotic will start with the words Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. For additional support if you've recently been on antibiotics, or are traveling to a country where you might get food poisoning, you may want to find a probiotic that also includes the Saccharomyces Boulardii strain as well. There are several strains for each type of bacteria. The more the better!