Probiotics have received a lot of good press of late, and for a good reason! If you want to know what all the fuss is about, read on!
For those of you who are not sure exactly what probiotics are, it is the name given to the approximately 2kg of good bacteria that lives in your digestive tract. There are more bacteria living in your gut than there are cells in your body! The majority of these bacteria live in your colon or large intestine.
Probiotics perform a number of vital functions in your gut, they:
- Defend your body from bad bacteria, viruses, fungi or yeasts (including Candida).
- Assist with the digestion of food.
- Make certain vitamins including your B vitamins and vitamin K.
- Boost your immunity
- Promote a healthy intestinal lining through the production of certain nutrients
- Reduce inflammation
- Promote an overall healthy intestinal environment and healthy stools
Antibiotics, vaccinations, refined foods, alcohol, constipation, laxatives, chlorinated water, pesticides and birth control pills are a few items that can kill or diminish your beneficial bacteria. When your good bacteria is too low the bad bacteria and yeasts take over creating a condition in your gut called diabosis. Many digestive complaints – including bloating, discomfort, indigestion, IBS, inflammation and putrefaction – can be a direct result of these bad bugs taking over.
Fortunately, it is easy to re-establish a healthy population of good bacteria in your gut. If you suspect your good bacteria is low you can increase their number by eating fermented foods such as raw unpasteurised sugar free yoghurt, kefir (from goat’s milk), sauerkraut(fermented cabbage), fermented soya products, kombucha etc. You can also take a probiotic supplement. Ask your local health shop for a good brand. When you first start taking probiotics you may find that your symptoms temporarily worsen. This is due to the probiotics fighting against the bad bacteria that is established in your gut. If this happens hang in there, the symptoms will soon get better.
Once you have restored your natural flora balance, maintain a happy intestinal home for your good bacteria by eating a natural, unrefined diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables.