The Benefits of Probiotics

Fermented foods are termed the “missing link” in the American culture according to Dr. Mercola. He believes that if Americans would start to embrace fermented foods and probiotics in general, we would see exponential turn around in our health crisis. Why are fermented foods so necessary in our diet? I’m still learning, so let’s learn together.

Cultured (fermented) foods are traditional foods:

  • Plain unflavored yogurt (not store bought)
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Pickles
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi and
  • Kombucha tea

They are commonly used throughout the Eastern world, but we as Americans have really lost our heritage when it comes to the foods our ancestors used to eat. In fact, as I type those names, my spell check doesn’t even recognize them as words! Somehow I don’t feel we have progressed as much as we think we have.

“You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet.” There is no doubt in my mind that this is the next step for my family and I in becoming healthy. No mater your weight or body shape, your true health and vitality are in your gut. Your digestive track holds 80% of your immune system’s strength and effectiveness. Simply put, if your digestive track is not healthy or is damaged, the rest of your body will begin to show the signs of weakness. Anything from auto immune disorders to consistent skin problems (acne) can be good indicators. Also, IBS — a hard-to-treat condition that can have a range of intestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, eczema (an early sign of allergies), psoriasis, abdomnial fat and obesity are all indicators.

Fermented foods contain healthy organisms called probiotics. Probiotics are the army of good guys who fight off the army of bad germs we encounter. Antibiotics, the prescriptions we get from a pharmacy, usually kill off the bad germs, but what we must keep in mind is that they also kill the good guys. They wipe out the entire digestive track which is why it is soooo important to replenish your gut with the good guys. If you have ever taken an antibiotic, you are a candidate for probiotics.

Prior to listening to this interview, my family ingested the probiotics via the pill form. I had heard of the benefits and wanted in on the action, and the pills form you can buy at the store seemed like the easiest option for us. What I learned after listening to this interview, is that the pill form of probiotics simply are not as effective. Once I learned this, I felt like I had been wasting my money. $35 on a bottle of good probiotics that weren’t really making a difference? In the interview, Caroline explains that in order to get the full benefits of probiotics, we need a wide range of fermented foods. Kumboucha’s benefits are different than kefir’s, and also that fermented vegetables do a better job than the liquids at detoxing the body. All are necessary for digestive health. So what are the benefits of taking probiotics?

When the gut is healthy, it absorbs the vitamins and minerals you are feeding yourself. Imagine taking a vitamin for years, without seeing any results. That is what happens when our digestive track is unhealthy. Cracks begin to develop in the intestinal lining and nutrients are not absorbed properly. Frustrating to try and eat healthy, without seeing any change. Also, up to 10% of an individual’s daily energy needs can be derived from the byproducts of the good bacteria in your gut. Energy! What we all strive for more of throughout the day. Researchers at UCLA found that brain function improved among healthy women who regularly consumed probiotics. They also may reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Oral and dental health can improve. (see sources below)

The best and most profound benefit of probiotics are that they detox your body. They bind themselves to the toxins, heavy metals, and other junk in your system and make a quick exit. Awesome! There are so many benefits to detoxing, trust me.

My advice is to start SLOW. 1/2 cup of kefir for the first week or a spoonful of sauerkraut to start off with. Then gradually work your way into more servings and higher quantities. Ideally, the goal is to have 3 servings of probiotics in varied forms in each day. If you start to feel a bit yucky, that means your body is detoxing too fast. Drink lots of water and slow down a bit. Detox signs are a whole ‘nother post!

I’m excited to see the results from daily probiotic usage in my family. An update will be coming soon!

To listen to the full interview:

Caroline Barringer’s Interview with Dr. Mercola

To order a jar of fermented foods to try yourself:

Cultured Vegetables from Immunitrition

There is also a brand of fermented sauerkraut that I absolutely love: Bubbies! I have found it at many health food stores in the refrigerated section. Bubbies also makes fermented pickles & dill relish. Great for these upcoming summer BBQ s!benefits of probiotics

UPDATE: All 5 of us have been drinking kombucha everyday since this post. In my own body, I have seen an improvement in my skin. It’s softer, more supple and less dry. My kids have had less problems with constipation and diarrhea and the best news of all is that we have NOT had any symptoms of seasonal allergies yet! THIS IS HUGE! It’s now April; the trees have bloomed and by this time every year I usually have purchased an over the counter bottle of allergy meds for my husband and I. We usually are sneezing and miserable but I have yet to have even 1 symptom. AMAZING. My kids have been allergy free as well. I’ve even gone as far as to ask my friends who are allergy sufferers if their allergies have started because it’s almost too good to be true. They have all said they have started their normal allergy routines. I am so far, a big believer in the power of probiotics. My husband, daughter and I have also been snacking on fermented sauerkraut as an added bonus to our probiotic regimen. My plan from this point forward is to continue being disciplined with the probiotics and then try to add some other varieties into our diet. I also plan on beginning a batch of continuous brew homemade kombucha. More to come on that!

 

*Please note: This is not an affiliate link and I am not making a profit from these foods. I just simply want you to be healthy.

Sources:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264721.php;  http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/fact-sheet-probiotics;  http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0905c.shtml;  http://www.immunitrition.com/



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