Yuck! Wash your hands. Don’t touch that. Why? Because bacteria are everywhere and they’ll make you sick. We’ve all heard about bad bacteria. And believe me, there are some really nasty bacteria out there for sure. But they aren’t all bad. In fact there are some really good bacteria and we need them to stay healthy!
One of the reasons we get sick is because we have too many of the bad bacteria and not enough of the good ones. It’s all about balance. If we have a poor diet or are very stressed, we can lower the levels of probiotics in our bodies. Taking antibiotics can also kill off the good bacteria in our gut. When I was ill last year and taking heavy duty antibiotics, my doctor advised me to take a high quality probiotic. More about the quality of probiotics in a bit.Here’s what probiotics can do for you:
Probiotics do more than just improve our immune system. They also are responsible for:
- Lowering lipid (fat) levels which are the major cause of cardio vascular disease
- Helping to control gestational diabetes
- Improving intestinal function
- Reducing gassy tummies in babies
- Affecting which bacteria first colonize in your baby
You can find tons of brands of probiotics on the shelves of your drugstore or even at the supermarket. So how do you know which one is a “high quality” probiotic? First of all, remember that probiotics are living organisms so they need to be refrigerated. Even if you purchase them online, they should be shipped in freezer packs. Check the expiration date. You want to make sure it hasn’t passed or is about to expire. Their potency slowly deceases at a rate of about 2% a month. You want to make sure your probiotic has various strains of bacteria. Each serves a different purpose. These are some of the strains to look for:
- L. acidophilus – It supports nutrient absorption and helps with the digestion of dairy foods.
- longum – This is one of the most common bacteria found in the digestive tracts of adults. It helps maintain a healthy gut. It helps get rid of toxins.
- bifidum—This strain is critical for the healthy digestion of dairy products. It’s also important because it breaks down complex carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
You can take a supplement to increase the good bacteria that your body needs to stay healthy but you can also get probiotics from food. In fact probiotics from food have more live bacteria than supplements. Most supplements measure bacteria in the billions. Fermented foods have bacteria measuring in the trillions! Some fermented foods that are really high in probiotics are:
You can buy these foods but it’s quite easy to make most of them yourself. A note about buying yogurt and kefir: both of these products can have lots of hidden sugars, so it may be best to make your own or to rely on other foods for your probiotics.
If you’d like to try making a fermented food (and I hope you do), I suggest trying fermented gingered carrots – great as a side or a snack or even as a topping for your salad.
For more information on probiotics check out these links:
This article provides information only and is not meant to as medical advice. Please consult your doctor regarding your individual concerns.