There are more bacteria strains in your body than there are cells in your body. Would you believe 80% of our immune system is in the gut. It all begins at birth. A baby born via natural childbirth is exposed to it’s mothers’ bacteria, which then begins colonization in the baby’s GI (gut) of good bacteria. As the baby grows and begins to mature many other factors come into play, like antibiotics (kills all good bacteria), chlorinated water, pesticides, sugars, overly processed foods. We begin to create a host of bad bacteria and yeast as time goes by. This snowball effect continues through our adult life which creates disease due to our weakened immune system.
Life will still be filled with pesticides, chlorinated waters, medications, etc. As much as we try to maintain a clean diet it’s still not enough. Probiotics play such a key role in strengthening our immune system. Good bacteria (also known as good flora) crowd out the bad bacteria and yeast with a good bacteria colony of billions so that there is less room for the bad guys. So when reading labels look for the amount to be billions.
Very important – Take probiotics thirty minutes before breakfast with a tall glass of room temperature water to prepare your digestive system for the colonization.
People ask me why they need to take probiotics if they are eating yogurt with probiotics. When I ask which ones they are eating it’s usually a mass marketed brand filled with sugar. Most commercial yogurts do not have adequate amount of probiotics due to heat pasteurization. Heat and sterilization is required due to health and safety standards. Heat and sugar kill good bacteria, that is why probiotics are usually in the refrigerated section of your health food store in a capsule form. Not all probiotics are created equal. Some have hidden dairy, gluten, or soy. Some have very low amounts of strains or CFU’s (colony forming units). You need a minimum of 60 billion CFU. I love Natren’s Healthy Trinity because it is gluten, dairy, and soy free with a very high amount of CFU’s, I like to take two capsules. These can also be chewed by children with minimal taste followed by a big glass of water. Bio-K is another good option if you can tolerate dairy.
Fermented foods also have good amounts of CFU’s. Sauerkraut is one we love to eat, don’t throw away the juice in the jar! The juice has so much of that good bacteria our gut needs. Kimchi, and other pickled vegetables like turnips, carrots, cucumbers are also great options. These are excellent foods to add to your diet but not enough to keep us disease free considering all the environmental toxins around us today. Fermented foods maintained health in the 1900’s when life was simpler.
Keep in mind, if you are taking antibiotics do not take your probiotics at the same time. The antibiotics will kill off the probiotics. Wait a few days after you have stopped your antibiotics before taking them again.
Here is more info on the benefits of probiotics at http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0905c.shtml
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