When you have problems with your digestive health like myself, you might have heard the word ‘probiotics’ being thrown around. Or maybe you have been on a course of antibiotics and heard your friends and family, say, “Don’t forget to take probiotics”. But what are they and why are probiotics a important for a healthy gut?
How probiotics work
- Probiotics are yeasts and live bacteria that are very good for you, particularly your gut. In your digestive system, you get good bacteria and bad bacteria and probiotics are the good, helpful bacteria.
- Did you know that probiotics have actually been in our systems from the day we were born? When a baby is being delivered, it is exposed to its mother’s bacteria in the birth canal. Already this has started a whole chain of events in the baby’s gastrointestinal tract. Already the baby’s gastrointestinal tract is starting to produce good bacteria.
- Years ago, when processed foods and fast food joints weren’t the rage, our diets had plenty of probiotics in them. But now with modern agricultural and refrigeration methods, a lot of our foods have no probiotics in them at all. The sad thing is that most of the foods eaten today contain some antibiotics in them that kill off what good bacteria you have in your body.
- A lot of health issues today, such as inflammation, chronic fatigue, psoriasis, thyroid imbalances, joint pains, and autism have their connections with the way our gut works. Not all realize that poor gut health has been affecting even more numbers than what statistics will say.
- If you are interested in starting the journey to improved gut health, you might come across bumps in your road to achieve that. It might be because your microbiome is out of balance from the modern lifestyle that you have been used to, in the form of processed foods, insufficient exercise and so forth.
- This could also just be the aging process that is lowering the probiotics in your gut. It means that when you start replenishing the friendly flora in your digestive system with the amazing work of probiotics, your body starts detoxing.
What should one do when experiencing temporary detoxifying effects?
If you do struggle with detoxification effects, don’t let it deter or discourage you. Don’t forget that it’s only a temporary thing, but in any case, there are ways to help your body adjust to your taking probiotics so that you get the full benefits:
- Drink your water: When you drink plenty of water, you are really doing your body a favor because the water cleanses your body of the toxins and keeps you hydrated. Think about adding some lemon to your water to give it a boost in alkaline to even further remove toxins.
- Consider lowering your dosage of probiotics: If you feel your temporary detox effects are something you can’t tolerate, think about giving your body a bit of a break to balance itself before continuing – at a lower dosage. Everyone is different and maybe lowering your dose and working up to the normal dose again will make it easier for you to move into the probiotic regimen.
- Exercise, because our bodies are meant to be active and moving. Living a sedentary lifestyle results in the body not functioning at its utmost, especially when it comes to detoxifying. One of our detoxifying systems, the lymphatic system, needs movement from the body for the lymph fluids to transport toxins and waste from body cells.
Depending on your gut health, replacing bad bacteria in your body with good bacteria gives the body a jolt to the system.
Help your body through this process by giving it what it needs, water, exercise, and sleep. Once your good bacteria has settled down in your gut and taking charge over the bad bacteria, you will feel your health rising to new heights!
Let the healing process begin
There are excellent probiotic supplements on the market which are packed with healthy and live bacteria that can reshape your gut environment.
When you begin offering your body high-quality probiotic formulas, the good bacteria gets to work building good and beneficial bacteria in your gut, killing off the bad bacteria.
The bad bacteria, as it gets destroyed, will release toxins which can build up faster in your gut than your body is able to expel them.
Your body will react by producing side effects, albeit temporary, such as bloating, diarrhea, gas, aching limbs and even breakouts of your skin. In medical terms, this might be called the Jarisch-Herxheimer or healing-crisis reaction.
It is the probiotics working in your system, working to repair and remold the flora in your gut microbiome – building a stronger foundation for the rest of your body.
It might take your body some time to get used to this new type of activity in your body, so you might even notice a difference in the way you feel.
This could be positive or negative – and will last until your system adjusts to the change.
The detoxifying effects of probiotics
When your microbes are healthy, they are powerful and excellent at keeping your gut detoxified. What are the wonderful detoxification effects?
- Reduction in heavy metals: There are certain strains of bacteria that have the ability to detoxify and bind heavy metals that accumulate in your body. These can be mercury, lead, arsenic, and others.
- Breaking down of pesticides. Research shows that probiotics can degrade any pesticides that are commonly used in our environment, for example, what is used to maintain turf and golf courses, and which are found on crops such as cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts and others.
- Probiotics excrete BPA or Bisphenol A. This is an industrial chemical found in plastic water bottles and resins which leak onto our drinks and foods, causing medical problems.
Taking probiotics helps to reduce the absorption of this unhealthy plastic and to aid in it being excreted so that it doesn’t build up in your body, which will affect your health negatively if allowed to do so.
Top probiotic killers
Your lifestyle and dietary habits play a big part in the good or bad quality of your gut bacteria.
If you were to take probiotic supplements on a daily basis, yet fail to rid yourself of the things that are probiotic killers, then you probably will still deprive your body of the benefits of probiotics.
The bacteria in your microbiome is complete and affected by a lot of things. If you can bring all these things into alignment, you stand a better chance of having a healthy gut.
Let’s look at sure things that destroy good bacteria:
- Sugar, a top killer
- Overusing antibiotics from doctors
- Genetically modified foods
- Other medications
- Alcohol (excluding red wine)
- Insufficient exercise
- Over-sanitization (scary)
- Poor sleeping habits
Fantastic probiotic benefits
The ones listed below have been thoroughly researched:
1. Digestive health
Of course, a major benefit of probiotics is good digestive health. Eating foods that have plenty of good bacteria in them and also using probiotic supplements helps to protect your from ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease and others.
2. Helps in the decrease in antibiotic resistance
WHO, (World Health Organization) considers antibiotic resistance to be one of the largest threats in the world when it comes to global food health, food security and its development.
When you use probiotics, you can rebuild gut bacteria that is in poor health. Probiotic supplements and the right foods increase antibiotic effectiveness and prevent the bacteria from becoming resistant.
3. Mental Illness can be improved
Taking probiotics offers a lessening of depressive symptoms according to a 2016 review. They also seem to reduce the number of patients having to be re-hospitalized again suffering from manic depression.
4. Boosts immunity and decreases inflammation
Research has already proven that probiotics have the potential for preventing many immunity-related diseases caused by inflammation. Particularly being of benefit to older people’s gut health and quality of life.
5. Good skin that is healthy
Children particularly benefit from taking probiotics as a preventative for what is known as pediatric atopic dermatitis as well as infant eczema.
6. Effect of probiotics on cancer
Evidence shows that probiotics are able to help with long-term cancer symptom management and even diarrhea related to chemotherapy.
In 2014 there was a study to investigate the effects of giving probiotics to patients with colorectal cancer. After the 12-week treatment program, studies showed that there was a significant decrease in the patients who suffered from IBS symptoms.
How do I get more probiotics in my system?
Eating more sour foods:
Good ones are apple cider vinegar, fermented vegetables such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and drinking kvass.
Consuming more foods rich in probiotics
Examples are kefir, kombucha, goat milk, and yogurt. A good idea is to add kefir to your morning smoothie.
Feeding the probiotics already in your system.
Remember that probiotics are organisms that are alive in your body and to be healthy they need excellent food. You need high-quality fiber like flax seed and chia seeds which are also great in your smoothies. Eat plenty of organic fruit, sweet potatoes, and other veggies.
Take an excellent probiotic supplement.
This is a great way to improve the gut micro-flora in your body.
Conclude your decision to get a healthy gut with top probiotic foods
1. Kefir – similar to yogurt, created from fermentation of milk. Coconut kefir is also delicious.
2. Sauerkraut – which is made from fermented vegetables, more particularly from cabbage. High in organic acids, which give foods their sour taste and which support the growth of the good bacteria.
3. Kimchi – cultured vegetables from Korea. Made from cabbage, scallions and radish, red pepper paste, ginger, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, some kelp powder and salted shrimp. It is also fermented for about 14 days.
5. Natto – a Japanese dish, consisting of fermented soybeans, able to really boost your immune system. It also has vitamin B12 in it which is often lacking in vegan diets. An excellent supply of plant-based proteins – 31 grams of protein in a cup.
6. Yogurt – probably the most popular probiotic foods, made from milk supplied from goats, sheep or cows. Milk must come from grass-fed animals. Make sure it’s made from raw milk, and that the yogurt is organic.
7. Kvass – a fermented beverage coming from Eastern Europe, originating from ancient times. It consists of the natural fermentation of organic bread, often flavored with fruit, berries or raisins.
8. Miso – a Japanese traditional medicine, used commonly for macrobiotic cooking, regulating the digestive system.
9. Kombucha – There are varieties of slightly effervescent and fermented sweetened black or green tea drinks. Apart from being excellent for gut health, it is excellent for detoxing the liver.
A lot of them you can readily buy at the grocery and gas stations. But I prefer to buy them at our local farmer’s market during the summer months.
Probiotics have been receiving a lot of attention in this 21st century. It comes from all kinds of research groups, consumers, and manufacturers.
It’s no wonder, seeing as the Romans and Greeks ate cheese and fermented products, and fermentation of dairy products comes from such ancient techniques in the art of food preservation.
If your digestive health is in good order, it’s not necessary, maybe not even prudent, to start taking probiotics.