Why Probiotics Are So Important For Overall Health

John Gray

Ever had a “gut” feeling?

There may be more to it than you realize.

It is estimated that over 500 species of bacteria lives in our gut, intestines, and stomach. Up until the past few years, researchers paid little attention to the colonies of bacteria that live in the lower gut.

Today, we know maintaining a healthy balance of good versus bad bacteria is important because people with more beneficial bacteria are less likely to suffer from a wide range of diseases and conditions.

A recent study found that the addition of a “good” strain of the bacteria lactobacillus to the gut of mice reduced their anxiety levels. The effect was blocked after cutting the vagus nerve – the main connection between brain and gut. This and other studies suggests the gut-brain axis is being used by bacteria to affect the brain.

Balancing the Bacteria

Traditional diets around the world have typically included raw and fermented foods full of beneficial strains of bacteria. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and fermented fish, all offer a helathy amount of good bacteria.

In our modern society however, we’ve effectively managed to pasteurize, irradiate, and process out any naturally occurring beneficial bacteria while feeding the harmful bacteria in our gut a feast of processed starches and sugars. Antibiotic use and other pharmaceuticals also further aggravate this problem.

How To Boost Your Bacteria

Beneficial bacteria is necessary to properly digest food and to absorb nutrients. It plays a big role in overall immunity. With the rise of digestive problems like IBS, Crohn’s disease, Celiac Disease, colitis, allergies, etc., a good dose of beneficial bacteria certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Fortunately, even if you’ve depleted your beneficial bacteria by some of the methods above, there are ways to increase it and help balance the bacteria in your digestive system. 

Here are some tips for boosting your probiotic balance:

Reduce or stop eating sugars, grains, starches, or vegetable oils. These foods deplete beneficial bacteria very quickly, which can suppress immunity and lead to a variety of health problems.

Eat more vegetables, proteins and fats. These foods help support beneficial bacteria that feed on certain types of fiber in foods like veggies. They will also support the body in culturing additional good bacteria.

Consume fermented foods and drinks. Foods like sauerkraut, fermented veggies, kefir, yogurt, and naturally aged cheeses are natural sources of probiotics. Eating a variety of these can help get in all the beneficial strains of bacteria. Cultured drinks like kombucha and water or milk kefir also provide probiotics.

Don’t overuse antibiotics. There may be cases when antibiotics must be used, but for mild illnesses that can be left to run their course or treated naturally, consider skipping the antibiotics, which will deplete all gut bacteria, including the beneficial strains. If you do need to take antibiotics, make sure to take a high-quality probiotic at the same time and for a while afterward to help replenish bacteria.

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