Hot, new probiotic supplements are flooding grocery store shelves. Kombucha, a form of fermented tea, and kefir, a fermented milk drink, are among the most talked about varieties of probiotics available.
The health benefits of probiotics have become more widely known in recent years. Probiotics are a beneficial form of gut bacteria that help stimulate the natural digestive juices and enzymes, keeping the digestive organs functioning properly. The health of gut bacteria is vitally linked to the immune system, so if one is imbalanced, the other will be too. Gut walls house 70% of the cells that make up the immune system, so keeping the gut healthy is very important.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria and yeast that are healthy, especially for the digestive system. Bacteria are often publicized as being only bad and are villainized for causing sickness. Yet, this beneficial bacteria and yeast are good for a healthy body. They help to maintain a healthy gut, keep the digestive tract in good working order, aid in nutrient absorption and contribute to healthy immune function. They are naturally found in the body and in many food sources that are probably already included in most people’s diets.
How are good and bad bacteria eliminated?
It has been drilled into every child’s brain from an early age that bacteria and germs are bad. Whether it is through washing hands with antibacterial soap or using harsh cleaning products in the home, the need for cleanliness and sanitation is emphasized everywhere. Processed foods and beverages, antibiotics and a diet high in processed grains and sugars can all contribute to the lack of healthy bacteria in the body. People exhaust themselves removing bacteria from their lives, not knowing that some of it is actually quite beneficial and necessary for their internal health.
What symptoms indicate low levels of these good bacteria?
Bodies are ever changing due to age, the environment, nutrition and lifestyle. A lack of healthy bacteria and good probiotic health often leads to symptoms such as a chronic need for antibiotics, digestive disturbances (such as diarrhea, gas, inflammatory bowel disease), skin conditions (such as acne, eczema, rashes and hives), mood disorders (stress, anxiety, irritability and depression), asthma, allergies and yeast infections.
Why add beneficial bacteria to the diet?
Beneficial bacteria are necessary to properly break down foods and to allow nutrients to be absorbed into the digestive system. Today’s foods are over pasteurized and the process removes much of the naturally-occurring beneficial bacteria. At the same time, the addition of processed starches and sugars actually feeds harmful bacteria. Because of this, it is important to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the body.
Where can people find this good bacteria?
A good place to start is by adding in foods that are raw or fermented and that naturally contain beneficial bacteria. Good examples of these foods are sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented veggies, natural yogurt, naturally aged and fermented cheese, and probiotic drinks like kombucha or kefir. If all the food options available do not suffice, there are many all-natural probiotic supplements, such as pills and drink mixes, that will help boost the growth of good bacteria as well.
Be aware of what is being removed and what is being consumed and give the body a boost with the beneficial bacteria that it needs for good health.