What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are typically defined as good bacteria or yeasts that are good for your health. We are encouraged to get more probiotics into our diet because over 70% of our immune system is in our gut and we need to constantly make sure that we keep the balance of the good and bad bacteria, especially if we do not lead a healthy lifestyle, and as we get older.
How important are probiotics?
Studies and research repeatedly show that if you are one of several people that are drawn to processed foods and rely mostly on cooked foods, your balance of bacteria in your digestive tract will have a hard time staying optimal. If this is the case, it would be ideal to supplement with a probiotic.
Probiotics are supposed to help support your immune system, aid in the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, and help to prevent allergies and keep bad bacteria under control.
Are they safe?
My personal opinion, as a naturopath, is that we never know where studies and research come from, and who exactly published these studies. It is difficult to know which strains of probiotic to choose. Just because a study was done, does not mean that it is effective or sound. If you are going to choose a probiotic, my only advice is to stay away from pasteurized versions. The pasteurization (heated) process will destroy many of the naturally occurring probiotics.
Are there signs that we may need a probiotic?
If you seem to get run down, have colds and flus often, this is an indication that your immune system is weak. As stated above, over 70 % of our immune system is in our gut. Therefore, poor gut health is a sign that you would need a probiotic. Other symptoms include IBS, celiac disease, food allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.
Is there something else we can do?
Of course! Adopting a healthier lifestyle like avoiding processed and too many cooked foods can eventually change your gut environment for the better. Choosing whole organic foods, more fruits and vegetables along with fermented foods can make a world of difference. Healthy versions of fermented foods include pickled cabbage, carrots, ginger, cucumbers, sauerkraut, turnips, etc. Kimchee is also wonderful to add to your salads daily. Different combinations of kimchee are sold in health food stores and even some grocery stores.
Try adding 3 fruits and a salad consisting of at least eight vegetables to your daily food agenda and always choose organic. Your cells will regenerate faster and your gut will be cleaner with a better balance of healthy bacteria!