This Amazing Bacteria is Essential for Health
Did you know that 80 percent of your immune system is inside your digestive system? It’s true. That’s why keeping your gut balanced with lots of the beneficial “good” bacteria is critical to your health. But what’s the best way to do that? By infusing it with the amazing health benefits of probiotics.
In today’s article I’m going talk about how probiotics can improve your health and share with you some of the ways you can incorporate them into your diet.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria that are good for your gut and your overall health. Normally we think of bacteria as something to avoid, but it turns out your body is loaded with bacteria, both bad and good. Probiotics are some of the good ones. They are found naturally in your body, but you can also get them from supplements and certain foods.
If your body has lost its good bacteria, like after you’ve taken a round of antibiotics, you can help replace them with probiotics. This will help balance your gut with both good and bad bacteria. Proper bacterial balance is essential for good health. The optimal balance should be about 15 percent bad bacteria and 85 percent good.
Most bad bacteria affect your intestinal lining. But good bacteria compete for room in the same place. And because good bacteria are so at home there, they generally prevail. Meaning they get most of the nutrition and the prime gut real estate.
How Do Probiotics Help?
Probiotics, the good bacteria in your gut, play many important roles including the following:
Helping to digest and absorb carbohydrates. Without these good gut bacteria, you are unable to absorb undigested sugars, starches, and fiber. The good bacteria in your gut convert these carbohydrates into important sources of nutrients and energy.
Absorbing minerals, producing vitamins, and removing toxins. Probiotics aid in the breakdown of toxins and boosting metabolism. They also help produce certain vitamins and absorb minerals.
Keeping bad bacteria at bay. As noted above, a big part of the influence of bad bacteria is on the lining of your intestines. Probiotics are stronger and push them aside for the best accommodations in your gut.
Fights intestinal parasites. Infection by parasites accounts for millions of worldwide deaths each year. Malaria, for example, kills about a million people every year. Other tropical parasitic diseases kill another half million people each year. Parasites can also cause digestive diseases like IBS. Probiotics fights parasites for space and food in the gut, and usually wins. One more reason why you should be getting plenty of probiotics.
Probiotics tell your body how much nutrition they need and your body responds. It provides only as much as requested and no more. This means bad bacteria don’t get any nutrition and die. The good bacteria also make a substance that kills bad microbes.
Helping to prevent allergies. Probiotics help to teach your immune system to tell the difference between dangerous pathogens and benign antigens. This prevents your immune system from over-reacting to the antigens, which is the basis of allergies.
Providing help to your immune system. Probiotics have a potent effect on your immune system. They are important in the operation and development of your gut’s immune system. They also help produce pathogen antibodies.
Probiotics carry out a wide range of functions. This makes them useful for dealing with many men’s health issues, including the following:
- Bladder and ear infections
- Skin and food allergies
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Infectious and antibiotic related chronic diarrhea
Varieties of Probiotics
There are many different kinds of probiotics and they all provide different benefits. Most fall into two main groups:
Lactobacillus. This is the most common probiotics. You can find it in yogurt and other kinds of fermented foods. This group helps people who have trouble digesting lactose, which is the sugar found in milk. It also helps with diarrhea.
Bifidobacterium. This probiotic can be found in dairy products. It’s been shown to help the symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
In a recent study researchers looked at several strains of probiotics, including these two. They found that Lactobacillus showed good effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory. But both strains have been found to offer a wide range of health benefits, as noted above.
Probiotic Rich Foods
One of the best ways to make sure you have a happy gut is to fill it with probiotic-rich foods. Here is a list of some of the best:
Yogurt. This is one of the all time best probiotic foods. Look for brands that tout probiotics or say “live-culture”. Stay away from the big factory-made brands that are loaded with artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial flavors.
Kefir. Kefir is a fermented dairy product like yogurt. It’s made from fermented kefir grains and milk. You can find healthy kefir in your local health food store and some larger grocery stores. Or, with the kefir “grains” to get started, it’s quite easy and fun to make your own kefir from milk.
Sauerkraut. This is made from fermented cabbage. Sauerkraut is rich in important vitamins as well as being full of live probiotic cultures. It’s a great way to get natural probiotics into your system.
Miso soup. Miso is a delicious soup made with fermented beans and barley or rice. It is loaded with probiotics and is a delicious way to pack your gut with good bacteria.
Although good quality probiotic supplement products can be beneficial for occasional use, don’t be fooled into thinking that you need them all the time or that they are all created equally.
If you’re eating a healthy diet and otherwise taking care of yourself, you probably don’t need to take a probiotic supplement every day. But if you’re feeling under the weather or sluggish, it might give you a boost.
Also, since not all products are created equally, you’ve got to do your homework to find out which are reputable. They are not regulated, and research has found that some don’t even contain any living probiotics! When you’re evaluating different kinds of probiotic supplements, be sure to check the type of bacterial strain. Other things you should consider before buying include:
- Extended shelf life
- Able to survive stomach acid so it gets into your intestines
- Doesn’t need refrigeration
- Stays long enough in your digestive tract to be effective
Generally speaking, probiotic supplements are considered safe. But you might have some mild side effects right after you start taking them. These can include an upset stomach, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. They may also trigger an allergic reaction. Stop taking them immediately if you experience any problems.
A healthy, balanced gut means a healthy, balanced immune system. Which leads, of course, to a healthy, balanced life. The best way to insure good gut health is to get plenty of probiotics into your digestive system.
You can do this by eating foods rich in probiotics like yogurt, kefir, and miso soup. Or you can take a supplement occasionally. But either way, making sure you supply your body with a steady flow of probiotics is a great way to get, and stay, healthy.