For quite a while, probiotics have featured large as a topic in holistic health and more recently in the modern medical world. Both as a Healthy Eating and Weight Loss Coach, and as a consumer with a few digestive symptoms of my own, I have been following the discussion with keen interest. “Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.”(Web MD)
“Probiotic bacteria are naturally found within the body, as well as within some types of fermented foods (i.e. yogurt, kefir, kimchee, miso, and sauerkraut). When eaten regularly, in the right amounts, probiotics may help keep your immune system healthy and help maintain the good bacteria in your intestine.” (Nutrition Nibbles, Hamilton FHT). Many diseases and medical conditions can reduce the number of “good” bacteria in the body and thus weaken our immune system. One common occurrence is when we take antibiotics which kill bad bacteria to heal us but also wipe out the good guys with the bad. The myth had been that all probiotics and food with added probiotics will replace the good guys and improve health.
Recently I became more aware of how simplistic this myth actually is. First, probiotics need to be administered alive, and in doses large enough to have an effect (often in the billions). Second, probiotics is an umbrella term under which there are tons of strains of ‘good guys’ which, as it turns out, are effective in different ways and for specific digestive needs. Third, not all foods with added probiotics will offer health benefits. “We’re still learning which probiotics are best, how much to take, and how long to take them, for different health benefits.” (Nutrition Nibbles, Hamilton FHT)
Plus here’s something cool. There are foods that provide food for probiotics to help them colonize in the gut. Called prebiotics, they are non-digestible carbohydrates. Food sources of prebiotics include bananas, artichokes, garlic, leeks, and onions, as well as barley, rye and other whole grains. Once probiotics are introduced, prebiotics help probiotics thrive in the digestive system.
I hope my ramblings have given you food for thought (no pun intended haha). But if you are interested in learning more about specific probiotics this is a great resource http://www.probioticchart.ca/ .
Enjoy your day,