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Probiotics and Gut Health

Everyday we take in billions of living bacteria, that may be on or in the foods we eat, a kiss shared with a loved one, even those that settle on your toothbrushes, Some bacteria survive the digestive process and the acids that break down foods in our stomachs but the amounts are not known. What is known that most of these bacterias do not cause us harm and some may even benefit us in many ways. The bacterias that have been studied and researched and show that they do have given positive benefits, have been labelled probiotics.

I am sure that you have heard this word or have seen it labelled on products like yogourt or kombucha and figure that it must be good for you. But do you know why it is good for for you or why you should include them in your diet?

Probiotics is not a new phenomenon. For centuries various cultures have been incorporating these helpful bacteria in there diets in various forms without even knowing it. From sauerkraut to kimchi and soy sauce and even cured meats these foods all rely on good bacterias to protect the food from the bad bacterias. This is the fermentation process and has been the oldest most effective way of food preservation. This process was accidentally discovered when milk and other products were left out in room temperature and formed new items. The process has evolved slightly with precautions in place to make sure that it is safe.

Over time the good bacterias have been studied and it was seen that the bacillus strain is what is needed in our systems. Bifido bacteria and Lactobacilli are commonly seen and most widely used as they are the bacteria that break down sugar in milk (lactose) and produce lactic acid (lactate) so are considered the lactic-acid bacteria. Earlier I mentioned that only some bacteria can survive the elements of the digestive process and those that have been seen to do just that are: Lactobacillus rhamnsous, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lacotbacillus case. While studies continue to be done it is not known how much of the healthy bacteria actually reaches the gut however it is known that these bacteria will resist digestion and have some positive effects.

Amounts of probiotics vary but it has been found that at least 10 billion are needed to survive the digestive system and be beneficial. Some main benefits that have been seen in research is that the probiotics will help the inside of your intestinal walls, the villi. They will be able to absorb nutrients, minerals and vitamins and will become more stable when faced with bacteria that do not serve them. This leads to the good bacteria defending our gut by being like security guards not letting unwanted intruders in. They will help create an environment so that bad bacteria will stand a lesser chance of surviving or takin over. Probiotic can also give our guts a boost when it has been affected by the likes of stress, antibiotics, illness and a poor diet.

In order to note if there is any effect the probiotics need time to work so the suggestions are to allow at least four weeks. Read the labels and find the bacteria that is targeting the area you need help with because all probiotics are not created equally. A blend will target varies areas and will boost the digestive tract where it is needed. Please note that if you discontinue a probiotic the benefits will no longer be effective. Speak to your health provider to know what probiotic is best for you as these are just suggestions.

Fermented foods like yogourt, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut are great additions to your diet but make sure they are of good quality. Many products on the shelf have additives and preservatives. If you would like to learn more about fermenting and making your one fermented products please contact me

Enders, Giulia. GUT: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ. Greystone Books, Canada 2015.


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