What is the story with probiotics? Are they really good for us?
You will read and hear many stories these days about probiotics and how good they are for you. But sometimes I miss reading about this in more simple terms so I really understand how these benefits will apply to my health.
So after reading about this topic and asking around, this is what I gathered:
Probiotics are the good bacteria that is responsible for maintaining everything within our digestive system working properly. We have billions of bacteria in our body, both good and bad. Most of our bacteria live in our digestive tract. We should have more good bacteria than bad bacteria in order to keep a healthy digestive system and to improve our immune system.
So one thing very overlooked, for many years by me included, when trying to improve our health is the state of our gut, our digestive system.
And our gut health is the one responsible for helping to break down and absorb all the good nutrients. It keeps toxins released from food at bay and keeps the pH at a level where the bad bacteria will not thrive. Lactobacillus is known to prevent constipation thanks to the fact that it smooths muscle contractions and it helps with digestion and absorption of nutrients.
GOOD BACTERIA AND BAD BACTERIA
One thing that I did not consider is that the majority of the immune system is also located in the digestive tract. I am taking antibiotics at the moment and I have read many articles that warn people of the not so nice side effects of taking antibiotics. The biggest reason for this is that this medicine kills lots of bad bacteria (which is great!) but also it also kills lots of good bacteria in the process in order to protect you.
So if you are taking antibiotics for example, maybe is not a bad idea to increase your probiotic consumption to have more of that naturally good bacteria as this would decrease the bad side effects of taking antibiotics.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A LOW NUMBER OF GOOD BACTERIA?
Symptoms for this are many, the most important of them all is a lowered immune system as this is the main reason for many of the symptoms below:
- Bad skin conditions such acne, dry skin, rosacea, psoriasis.
- Low mood & anxiety (there are studies that have shown that there is a connection between low bacteria count and the effect on our mental health)
- Intestinal problems such as constipation or diarrhea.
- Thrush or candida
- Bloating and gas
- Acid Reflux
WHAT SHOULD I TAKE TO INCREASE THE GOOD BACTERIA?
Many of you know that I try to eat an anti-inflammatory diet as much as possible due to my endometriosis. It does help, A LOT. For the last couple of years, I managed to reduce my estrogen levels significantly without any pills. Because of that, I try to reduce as much as possible the consumption of dairy. The good thing about these products is that the lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy foods (like kefir and yogurt) turn the lactose into lactic acid, so these foods are much lower in lactose than milk.
You can also find them done with almond or coconut milk.
- Life yogurt (the one that contains many of the healthy bacteria)
- Kefir: This one is similar to yogurt,
- Sauerkraut: This food is made from fermented cabbage (and sometimes other vegetables).
- Microalgae: super-food ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chlorella, and blue-green algae. This is not a probiotic itself but it can act as a prebiotic. This means that it will feed and nourish the probiotics already in your gut.
- Miso Soup: This is an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup, full of lactobacilli and Bifidus bacteria
- Pickles or any vegetable that has been pickled.
- Tempeh: it is a substitute for tofu made from soybeans.
Supplements that you can take instead:
Do you have experience with probiotics? Let me know by commenting below or just contact me!