Probiotic Power For Digestion

Probiotics are healthy bacterium in your gut that help to combat their harmful counterparts and maintain your digestive system. Probiotics can even assist with chronic digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

However, recent findings have revealed that the power of probiotics goes beyond digestion, and the medical world is beginning to place even more focus on probiotic research in an effort to further understand its health benefits and uses.

So how can you introduce more of the good probiotics into your body?

There are a couple of ways to do this.

The first is eating foods that contain the healthy bacteria and the second is by using a good Probiotic supplement.  Some of those good probiotic foods include the following:

1. Yogurt

Yogurt is most commonly made with lactobacillus bulgaricus, lactobacillus acidophilus, L. animalis and L. casei.    When you are choosing the good yoghurt look for non-pasteurized yoghurt and the “live Culture Active” Seal as that means the yoghurt contains a certain level of lactic acid bacteria. Do check the sugar content as many yoghurts can have sugar added.  Eating just yoghurt is not enough to get what your body needs in a day, but its a good healthy start.

2. Kefir

Fermented foods are good for the gut as they contain high levels of beneficial bacteria.  Kefir is a “yogurt-like drink” and a rich source of probiotics.  It undergoes minimal processing and pasteurization and can come in a mixture of flavors.  Try making kefir ice pops or use it in place of milk. For those that are dairy free, use coconut kefir.

3. Kombucha

Kombucha (which is a fermented drink), is made by fermenting sweetened tea with a blend of bacteria and yeast. Once fermented it becomes a low calorie carbonated drink full of antioxidants, vitamins, acids, enzymes, and probiotics.  Many swear by kombucha to reduce joint pain, increase energy, detoxify the body, improve digestion and immune support. If you have been used to drinking sweet, sugary soda drinks this is a good healthy replacement.  Its also very easy to make and cheap too.

4. Fermented/pickled vegetables

Fermented foods are detoxifiers and contain high levels of beneficial bacteria to optimize your gut flora.  They also have high level of antioxidants. Kimchi (a staple in Korean diets) and sauerkraut are good healthy fermented foods and known for their detoxifying properties, which help to clean out your gut.   Even if you only have a quarter to a half cup per day, this is beneficial.  It’s best to make your own as commercialised brands add preservatives and artificial ingredients.

To make Sauerkraut, use cabbage and salt. With clean hands, massage salt into sliced cabbage until it softens and releases its juices. Transfer to a sterilized jar and let it ferment for at least two weeks before you taste it.  Here is a recipe that explains the process: read here

5. Miso

Miso is a fermented soy paste and can be found Asian soups, and is used in Japanese cooking. If you are buying it look for low sodium miso paste, and make sure it has no MSG.  You can also use miso as a base for marinades or dressings.  Miso has many benefits. It helps regulate the digestive system and studies are showing that it may lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.  Additional benefits include a decrease in levels of fatigue, cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation.

6.  Sourdough

Sourdough is made from a starter that contains yeast and a bacteria called lactobacillus. As the ingredients are fermented healthy bacteria levels rise – and this means its good for you so if you can tolerate bread (gluten and grains) sourdough is a good option for the gut.

7. Probiotic pills

To ensure high levels of intestinal flora, probiotic pills are of great benefit. There are many on the market and they are varied in quality.  Things to check include, are they dairy free (if you are allergic), what is the use-by date; how many strains of bacteria are in the supplement and what are they.  Each strain has a different function and support different areas of the digestive tract so you should be buying a probiotic that has the following. Its magic is in the synergy of all strains, not the amount of concentration of each strain.  Here is what Dr. David Williams (with over 20 years experience in this area) says:

Because the different strains of probiotic bacteria have slightly different functions and are concentrated in various places along the digestive tract, probiotic supplements that contain multiple strains tend to be more effective overall than products containing an extremely high concentration of just one or two strains. This is because many strains work synergistically to influence our health. The whole literally is greater than the sum of its parts. In my opinion, the best probiotic supplements will include at least these three most important strains:

  • L. acidophilus—This is the most important strain of the Lactobacillus species and, it readily colonizes on the walls of the small intestine. It supports nutrient absorption and helps with the digestion of dairy foods.
  • B. longum—Like L. acidophilus, B. Longum is one of the most common bacteria found in the digestive tracts of adults, and it helps maintain the integrity of the gut wall. It is particularly active as a scavenger of toxins.
  • B. bifidum—This strain, found in both the small and large intestine, is critical for the healthy digestion of dairy products. This is especially important as you grow older and your natural ability to digest dairy declines. B. bifidum also is important for its ability to break down complex carbohydrates, fat, and protein into small components that the body can use more efficiently.

Secondarily, I like: L. fermentum—This Lactobacillus strain helps neutralize some of the byproducts of digestion and promote a healthy level of gut bacteria. L. rhamnosus—Known as the premier “travel probiotic,” this strain can help prevent occasional traveler’s diarrhea.

Bottom line, if you feel you are not getting enough probiotics out of your diet, your next best option is to use a good probiotic supplement.

Source: https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2012/natural-products/biotics http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-22283/7-probiotic-foods-that-are-great-for-your-gut.html http://www.homeremy.com/incorporate-more-probiotics-into-your-diet/ http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/how-to-choose-the-best-probiotic-supplement/