Our complex digestive system is host to millions of (mostly) beneficial bacteria, close to 400 varieties of bacteria line the stomach, intestines and colon.
These beneficial bacteria or probiotics are responsible for aiding digestion, combatting the “bad” bacteria we may ingest, forming enzymes, and supporting our immune systems.
Probiotics are said to be responsible for our “gut” health, those functions outlined above plus the prevention of diarrhea, yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.
Probiotics include many species and strains of Lactobacilli, and Bifidobacteria.
To ensure proper health and an abundance of healthy bacteria we should make an effort to consume foods that support or replace probiotics and prebiotics, the specialized plant fibers that feed and nourish probiotics.
In a simple analogy, think of probiotics as pets, and prebiotics as pet food.
Natural Sources of Probiotics
Many probiotics are found in fermented or “cultured” foods, the most common being yogurt and kefir.
In addition to yogurt, add sauerkraut, Miso soup, soft cheeses, kefir, sourdough breads and sour pickles to your diet.
While yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut are excellent sources of probiotics, you can only each so much of them.
Many people have difficulty eating fermented foods consistently, or they simply don't like the taste of them. An effective alternative is probiotic supplements.
When choosing a probiotic supplement, look for products that contain:
Natural Sources of Prebiotics
Prebiotics are not actually bacteria, they are food for the friendly bacteria.
Foods that contain prebiotics include bananas, onions, garlic, tomatoes, honey, oatmeal, whole grains and many kinds of beans.
Prebiotics also appear to assist in your body’s absorption of calcium and in the production of vitamin K.
Antibiotics and Gut Health...
Probiotics and prebiotics are generally naturally occurring and self sufficient, we rarely think of their role unless there is a digestive problem.
But one time that you should definitely take an active role in supplementing your probiotics and prebiotics is immediately after any course of prescribed oral or intravenous antibiotics.
This medical treatment can, and will, wipe out the beneficial bacteria and destroy your gut health!
Ensure that you take steps to replace both probiotics and prebiotics to restore and maintain your good health. - Like right away!
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