Probiotics for Healthy Bacteria
Have you ever heard of the word “probiotics” before?
If it sounds alien to you, probiotics are simply healthy bacteria that could benefit its host tremendously, unlike the bad bacteria that we commonly know of. According to Tracy Olgeaty Gensler, author of Probiotic and Prebiotic Recipes for Health, the friendly bacteria are critical to your health and have been shown to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and help the body better absorb nutrients from food.
Gensler also notes that in your digestive system, specifically intestines, there are trillions of bacteria doing their thing. The digestive system is very complex — and it consists of 300 to 500 different species of bacteria. However, it is safe to say that a lot of them are good. The most popular being lactobacillus acidophilus (Latin for acid-loving milk-bacterium), that can be found in the vagina as well as in digestive tract, and is what you typically see in pill form lining the drugstore shelves.
How can bacteria help you?
You’re faced with many threats to the beneficial bacteria in your gut, from chlorinated drinking water to overly-processed foods. As such, the purpose of having probiotics in your system is to counteract their evil counterparts, which often find their way to places where they don’t belong. These “evil” bacteria are the cause of tummy troubles like the stomach virus, flu or a whole slew of other illnesses.
Probiotics also aid in the breakdown of fibre from food — like fruits, veggies, and whole grains — as well as lactose from dairy products. The result: stellar intestines and a healthy belly. You’ve also got some no-good bacteria (a.k.a. yeast) living in your private parts, so probiotics help keep that in check. So how can I find probiotics in my food? They are usually contained in buttermilk, kefir (fermented milk drink made from grains), kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage), miso, sauerkraut, tempe (fermented soybeans) and the most common of them all: yogurt.
Among the major benefits of high-quality probiotics:
- Support your overall immune function
- Promote vaginal health in women
- Help you keep a healthy balance of intestinal microflora
- Enhance the synthesis of B vitamins and improve calcium absorption
- Aid you in digesting food, particularly hard-to-digest foods and foods to which some individuals are more sensitive
There is also encouraging evidence that probiotics may help with bodily functions other than just digestion alone, namely:
- Treat diarrhoea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
- Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome
- Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
- Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
- Prevent and treat eczema in children
- Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu
Getting your supply of “good bacteria”
The live microbes in probiotics foods can be used in conjunction with prebiotics — non-digestible foods which help the probiotics flourish. This combination, known as synbiotics, can improve the survival of probiotics in the digestive tract. Prebiotic foods include barley, flax, legumes such as black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, and white beans, oatmeal, and all fruits and vegetables, but bananas, berries, chard, collard greens, dandelion greens, garlic, kale, leeks, mustard greens, onions, and spinach are especially rich in prebiotics.
While many have different views regarding the best time to consume a probiotics supplement, here is the recommended approach and timing for taking a probiotics supplement:
- Take it prior to eating breakfast with a glass of pure water
- Wait 10-15 minutes after taking it before you eat because stomach acid from your meal could impact some of the ‘good’ bacteria (you could lose 5-10%)
- Avoid taking it within 3 hours of taking any antibiotic
Meanwhile, what if you’re eating yogurt? Should you still take probiotics? Due to strict food safety regulations, less bacteria (including the “good” ones) survive the manufacturing process. Many overly-processed products, just like yogurt, undergo pasteurization or sterilization, which may destroy beneficial bacteria. With less helpful bacteria present in our food, it is crucial to supply our bodies with high-quality probiotics
Always make sure that you get the high-quality probiotics you need. Basically, without the following key factors, any probiotics formula may not be that beneficial to you, unless it:
- produces beneficial effects and thrives in the intestine
- has the ability to survive the stomach and into the intestine
- remains stable and viable for long period of time
- is viable and dose specific
- contains effective bacterial strains – it must be strain specific
Side effects are rare and most healthy adults can safely include food that contain prebiotics and probiotics to their diet. If you are considering taking supplements, check with your doctor to be sure that they’re right for you. One of the producst that those who are keen on adding a probiotics supplement to their diet is Probiotic Enzyme by Natural Nestcare Enterprise.