What are the health benefits of probiotics and why are they such a big deal these days?
Most people spend a lot of time trying to get rid of bacteria in their lives, but what if we told you not all bacteria is bad for you?
In fact, your body relies on millions of healthy, helpful bacteria to keep you safe and healthy every day.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food, getting some sunshine, and purging unhelpful thinking is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life.
You want a quality long life.
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Why Probiotics Benefit Health
Last weeks post, Foods That Improve Gut Microbiome, was all about how the gut helps to regulate health. Be sure to read it for helpful information.
This week we will zero in on the easiest supplement for gut health…probiotics.
I say easiest because you can get probiotics almost anywhere now…even at the gas station store.
All human beings have bacteria in and on their body.
In fact, research has shown that the human body is composed of more bacteria than cells.
A healthy human body is actually swarming with microorganisms inhabiting every nook and cranny on the body.
It is in our gut, the gastrointestinal tract, that we can find the largest collection of microorganisms.
These microorganisms are a community and as such make up our gut microbiota.
Combine the microbiota, the products it makes, and the entire environment it lives within and we have a microbiome.
The human microbiome (all of our microbes’ genes) can be considered a counterpart to the human genome (all of our genes).
Every human being has a unique gut microbiota
Regardless of the composition, the microbiota has the same physiological functions with a direct impact on the health of the human body.
For most people, a good functioning microbiota helps with production of certain vitamins, proper digestive function, helping the body digest certain foods.
These are vital and important functions of the human body and the immune system.
Some researchers have said that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome.
Things that interfere with having a normal gut microbiota
- NSAID drugs – aka anti-inflammatory drugs: Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Celebrex etc.
- A diet high in processed foods and not enough fresh plants
- Acid Blockers – the family of drugs known as PPI or Proton Pump Inhibitors: Nexium, Pepcid AC, Prilosec
It is becoming more well known that the more of these drugs that you take, the more damage they do to your gut and the longer it will take to heal.
I know this is true in my case and I have been working hard to fix my gut issues.
Poor gut health can contribute to many diseases and disorders like:
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Autoimmune disease
- Heart disease
Surprising to many is the fact that health, fertility, and longevity are reliant on the balance of organisms and bacteria living within the gut.
Every human being shapes their own microbiome, which in turn adapts to changes in their environment.
Depending on the symptoms you are experiencing, your microbiome could need a minor adjustment or a major adjustment.
And by giving your body beneficial probiotics, you can improve the population of helpful bacteria inside your body that are necessary for your continued health.
Learning which foods are high in probiotics, as well as the benefits these organisms offer to your body, will help you feel better and stay healthier over time.
Understanding Probiotics and Their Benefits
You have bacteria, yeast, and other microbes all over your body, both inside and out. Luckily, many of those organisms are helpful bacteria that perform vital functions for your cells, tissues, organs, and body systems.
Probiotics and the beneficial bacteria they support can help:
- Boost your immune system, allowing you to heal faster from sickness and injury.
- Prevent infection by stopping hostile bacteria from taking over.
- Improve your digestion, which allows you to better absorb nutrients from the foods you eat.
- Help with the production of vitamins B and K
- Probiotics help you digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine haven’t been able to digest
The majority of helpful bacteria in your body live in your gut.
Keeping your digestive microflora healthy not only aids your digestion but also ensures your immune system is working properly. These two systems are directly linked.
When you throw off the balance of good versus bad bacteria in your gut, such as when you are sick or when you are taking antibiotics, you need to help your body replenish the friendly bacteria in your system.
Eating probiotics can restore this balance, which creates a barrier against harmful microbes.
Probiotics and Antibiotics
When you take antibiotics to treat an infection, you not only eliminate the bad bacteria that are making you sick but also the healthy, beneficial bacteria that can make you well.
When you take probiotics during and after using antibiotics, you are helping to restore the natural gut microflora that your body needs quickly.
This also can help increase the effectiveness of antibiotics, which can help you feel better faster and require fewer and smaller doses of antibiotics in the future.
Probiotic-Rich Foods That Aid Better Health
Foods that are cultured or fermented are good sources of probiotics, as bacteria are what create their flavor and texture.
Examples of foods that are high in probiotics include:
- Cultured yogurt
While some of these foods have bacteria which grow naturally, some include bacteria that are adding during the preparation process.
Various Strains of Probiotics
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Lactobacillus gasseri
- Saccharomyces boulardii
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Enterococcus faecium
- Bifidobacterium longum
Any food that claims to have probiotics should contain at least one of the strains listed here.
This is also true for probiotic supplements, so always read the label if you are in doubt.
Be aware of your own health when choosing and taking probiotic supplements.
Start with a low dose and try that for a few days or on alternate days until you know how your body tolerates it.
I remember when a certain brand of yogurt came out and it was full of probiotics. I ate one small container of that yog and I was in the bathroom for the rest of the day.
It was just too much for my sensitive stomach. If you think your gut is damaged or needs extra help, ease into it.
Supporting a Beneficial Probiotic Environment
In addition to eating foods that contain probiotics, you can create an environment that is supportive of the healthy bacteria in your body.
You can start by altering the pH of your digestive system by eating more sour foods.
Fermented vegetables and vinegars contain small amounts of probiotic, but their acid content is the most powerful part of their benefits.
They contribute to a gut environment that allows probiotics to flourish.
You can also be sure the bacteria in your system have plenty of fuel by feeding them a high-fiber diet.
The fermentable fiber in fresh vegetables, fruits, flax and chia seeds are perfect for giving probiotics the food they need to maintain your healthy bacteria levels.
Adding probiotics to your diet is one health move you can make to improve your health. These foods contain beneficial bacteria your body needs to fend off unwanted visitors.
Help your body today by including probiotics in your next meal or snack.
I will be doing a review post for the brand of probiotics that I am currently testing for my own gut health. Watch for that coming soon, if you need to try a new probiotic.
I advocate for a clean, healthy Keto diet with an emphasis on eating fresh, seasonal produce. Not only do you get the beneficial fiber but you get fresh nutrients that heal your body faster. Fresh produce feeds your gut what it needs to maintain your good health.
And do not forget about my Keto Diet Kit: get recipes, a shopping list, tips, and a planner to set goals, track progress, and success tips.
Eat the best food that you can afford to give your body the building blocks it needs for optimal health, longevity, and looking good for as long as possible 😉
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Grab your KETO FOOD GUIDE by signing up below.
Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!