Many people do not realize that the health of the immune system and the brain is strongly linked to the health of your gut; therefore, anything that disrupts the perfect flora balance can precipitate problems elsewhere in the body.
During the course of one day we are faced with many threats to the beneficial bacteria in the gut, from chlorinated drinking water and antibiotics, to ultra-processed and sugary foods. It’s important to choose food wisely. Sugar causes the pathogenic bacteria to thrive. “Good” bacteria in your gut can only help you if it is present and in the proper balance.
This is where probiotics can have a profound effect–not just on your GI health, but on your overall health as well. Keep in mind, 80% of your immune system actually lives in your gut.
The major benefits of a high-quality probiotic are to…
- Aid in digestion, particularly hard-to-digest foods and foods which some individuals are more sensitive
- Enhance the synthesis of B vitamins and improve calcium absorption
- Help replace and keep a healthy balance of intestinal micro-flora
- Promote vaginal and urinary tract health
- Enhance and support your immune system
A History of Fermented Foods
Fermented foods and dairy have been a part of many cultures for centuries. During the age of ancient Rome, people ate sauerkraut. In ancient India, it was commonplace (and still is) to enjoy a before-dinner yogurt drink called a lassi. These Indian traditions were based on the principle of using sour milk as a probiotic delivery system to the body. Bulgarians are known both for their health and their high consumption of fermented milk and kefir. In Asian cultures, pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots still exist today. People of the Ukraine consume probiotics from foods like sauerkraut, raw yogurt, and buttermilk.
Yogurt as a Source of Good Bacteria
Many of my patients eat yogurt and ask if that is sufficient in obtaining the necessary live culture count they require. Traditional yogurts were phenomenal sources of beneficial bacteria due to their raw and unpasteurized state. Unfortunately, most of today’s yogurts are pasteurized, unless specially purchased raw and unpasteurized from a local farmer. Sadly, pasteurization radically reduces most of the benefits. Many popular yogurt brands are filled with artificial color, preservatives, sugars, and do not contain any live bacteria at all.
Probiotics I Recommend
My go-to brands for general wellness are Xymogen’s ProbioMax Daily DF and Rejuvenation Science’s Probiotic + FOS. For my patients with inflammatory bowel disease, chronic debilitating disorders, and autoimmune issues, I prescribe a variety a probiotics and will often rotate as needed.
Here’s to your healthy gut!