Did you know that you are only as healthy as your gut?
Of all the research I have done over the years on health and nutrition, I have always been fascinated by how much of our health is tied to our gut as well as what is living inside there. One of the things I realized I needed the most was probiotics, in fact we all should be taking probiotics.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for your health, your digestive system especially. Our digestive systems are home to at least 500 different bacterial strains. 85% of the bacteria in our gut is beneficial to our health. While the majority of our gut flora is considered “friendly bacteria,” the remaining 15% are pathogenic bacterial strains and yeasts. There are different strains of probiotics and each one is important for keeping you healthy.
In a well balanced gut, the friendly bacteria can harness some of those pathogenic strains to perform helpful functions. The problem is that most people today have unfriendly gut flora. This is because of antibiotic use, birth control, and other meds negatively affect gut flora. Also the consumption of processed foods and high amounts of sugar feed pathogens and candida. Having unfriendly gut flora can result in health problems such as diarrhea, constipation, allergies, ear infections, colds, vaginal yeast infections, Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, cancer, and more.
The good news is that by taking probiotics you can replace the good bacteria and help keep the balance of both the good and bad bacteria in check.
But how? There are foods that you can add to your diet to add probiotics naturally such as yogurt, kefir, and homemade fermented foods. In many health food stores these days, you can easily find kombucha, yogurt, or other naturally fermented veggies. This option may be time saving but it will cost you more money than actually putting in the effort to make them at home.
Many of these foods are not nearly as complicated or time consuming as you may think. They require very little equipment and will save you some money. You can find tons of great recipes and other resources online.
For many people, the first small step back to healthy gut flora is by taking a daily probiotic. The main downside to probiotic supplements is the cost. Yes, there are cheap probiotics on the market, but you get what you pay for. Most probiotic supplements need to be refrigerated.
When shopping for Probiotics you want to be on the lookout for different strains because they all do something different for your body. You also want to choose one that is high potency (one that is in the 10’s of billions).
When Do I Need More?
If you have digestive issues, allergies, asthma, eczema, recent antibiotic use, or just not feeling well, then it is a good idea to increase your probiotic supplement or eat more cultured foods.
Sometimes probiotics alone may not be enough. That is when a special elimination diet such as the GAPS diet can help to heal your gut flora and even reverse food allergies.