Vanilla Honey [dot] com

what to do when your immune system hates you

The benefits of probiotics


benefits of probiotics

Although we tend to picture "bacteria" as being something that causes diseases, the human body is comprised of many times more beneficial bacteria than human cells. The majority of these bacteria reside in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to help digest your food into the nutrients needed for the body to function properly. These beneficial bacteria primarily occur in fermented foods. Fermentation was until quite recently the major method of preserving food "for later" -- leave the food out until live cultures of bacteria develop, then store it. Such foods include yoghurt, kefir, kvass, and pickled vegetables.

Unfortunately, food production has changed drastically. Foods are now required to be soaked in chlorine, and sprayed or otherwise dosed with antibiotics to prevent diseases. In addition the simple act of refrigeration reduces the need for fermentation to preserve foods. Bacteria develop more slowly if at all when refrigerated. This reduces the available good bacteria which are essential to maintain good health. The loss of the beneficial bacteria leaves a void which will quickly be filled by invaders -- microbes, viruses, yeast, and other "bad bacteria". Thus, the need for probiotics.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are bacteria similar to what is in the GI tract of healthy individuals. If taken orally, they can replace the needed bacteria which gets destroyed by poor health choices and daily living. What is essential is to maintain a good ratio of "good (beneficial) bacteria" to "bad bacteria" which cause diseases and infections. Most of what is in the GI tract should be beneficial bacteria. If it isn't, you are more likely to have immune issues, yeast and fungal infections, and general inflammation.

What probiotics can do for you

Probiotics can help restore balance to the GI tract. Over 60% of the human immune system is found in the GI tract. If this gets out of balance, disease happens. It is essential to keep your body populated with beneficial bacteria.

Some of the benefits of probiotics include:

Ways to get probiotics

Eat more fermented foods

This includes apple cider vinegar, kefir, kimchi, and yoghurt. Foods should be labeled as contain live active cultures. Anything that is just "made from active cultures" may no longer be alive if it wasn't stored properly. Dead cultures don't help your health.

Take a probiotic supplement

There are different strains of probiotics. Each capsule will generally have about 10-20 different strains. Different strains may have different effects, so choose something specific to your needs. The label should have information as to which strains are included in addition to the Colony Forming Units (CFUs) at the time of manufacturing.

Beneficial strains include Saccharomyces boulardii, Bacillus coagulans, Bacillus subtilis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

You will also want to look for something with a specific "sell-by" date to ensure the cultures are live.

Note: Most probiotics are grown on a dairy culture. The manufacturers may claim the dairy is removed in processing. Proceed with caution if you have dairy issues.

Also note that the human body may not be able to differentiate between probiotics and other bacteria if you have histamine issues. Always start small with dosages to check for a reaction.

How to help probiotics thrive

Feed them well

Probiotics are living things. They need to be fed properly with good prebiotics such as soluble fiber. Organic fruits and vegetables are a good source of fiber.

Avoid tap water

Tap water in many communities contains salts such as fluoride and chlorine to kill bacteria growth. It'll do the same for your probiotics. Water quality can be tested with a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter or other test kit, depending on what substances you want to test in your water. You can always invest in a good filtration system to remove such things if your water at home isn't good.

Reduce sugar intake

Too much sugar (refined or otherwise) leads to an overgrowth of yeast and bad bacteria, which significantly impairs the functionality of your GI tract. Don't give them food if you value your health. We shouldn't eat that much sugar, anyway.

Avoid GMOs

GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are increasingly prevalent in today's food supply. That means the genetic material of a particular food has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory to insert or remove genes from that food. GMO foods include soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, zucchini, and squash. Many of these "Frankenfoods" are used in animal feeds in addition to appearing the human food supply. This modification leads to premature aging, reproductive issues, immune diseases, and organ damage when these foods are eaten. The best way to avoid GMOs is to buy certified organic foods which are held to strict standards.

Avoid antibiotics

It's not just medications that contain antibiotics. It seems like every public place such as a supermarket or hospital has a dispenser for antibiotic wipes under the guise of "disinfecting" or "sanitizing" wipes. These wipes will remove most of the "bad bacteria" from your cart, sure, but any that survive will only become stronger. Don't create super-bacteria. Washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water can be effective at killing germs when done regularly.

Reduce stress

Not surprisingly, stress can cause digestive upsets. The simple act of reducing stress can work wonders for your intestinal flora. Meditate, take up yoga, or just plain relax to reduce stress levels.

Tealmermaid's Treasure Grotto