Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live within our digestive tract. They are essential to our health by playing a key role in our immune system, our ability to digest and absorb nutrients from food, deal with toxins, our cognitive abilities, our skin, weight control, food cravings, hormone signals, etc. The benefits are huge and seemingly endless! They are literally essential to good health.
The following are ways of destroying or compromising your beneficial bacteria:
- Taking anti-biotics
- Undergoing anesthesia
- Eating commercial beef raised with antibiotics
- Frequently eating foods high in sugars or processed flours
- Frequently eating wheat products
- Frequently consuming alcohol
It's safe to say this would cover almost 100% of us at some point in our lives, if not currently. Once your beneficial bacteria have been destroyed or weakened they need to be restored and maintained. There are two ways to do this. The quick, short-term fix is by taking a high-quality Probiotic supplement. You can usually take Probiotics for 3-6 months and then take a 3-6 month break before taking them again. There are many great brands out there, but do your research so you aren't wasting money.
The long-term solution to restoring and maintaining health bacteria is to make lacto-fermented products a part of your daily diet. Lacto-fermentation is a process of getting beneficial bacteria to grow and ferment food items. The bacteria product lactic-acid as a by-product hence the name, lacto-fermentation. It does not have anything to do with lactose so those who are lactose intolerant need have no fear. Lacto-fermented foods are high in beneficial bacteria (probiotics), minerals, vitamins, and lactic-acid (a beneficial source of energy). Foods that are lacto-fermented are:
- Cultured yogurts
- Sauerkraut (not vinegar based or pasteurized)
- Pickles (not vinegar based or pasteurized)
- Kombucha Tea
The "pickled" products and the yogurts have to be made a certain way in order to produce the beneficial bacteria so make sure you buy truly lacto-fermented products. Bubbie's makes lacto-fermented sauerkraut and pickles that are very good and I eat them every day as well as cultured Bulgarian Yogurt. I recommend to all of my clients to eat two or three servings of lacto-fermented foods a day. They are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. I'll go into more detail about the benefits in a future article, but until then I hope you give them a try!