This post was originally published on June 17, 2016

THE MICROBIOME

Scientists are finding more and more that our microbiome (the tiny creatures living in our gut) are hugely important to our health.  Bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms make up our microflora.  Microflora influence our genetic expression, immune system, brain health, weight, and risk for many illnesses, including cancer.

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WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS?

Over the last decade, probiotics & prebiotics have become more popular. These supplements are newer to the scene, but are included in the routine of most health professionals.  Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help aid digestion and control growth of harmful bacteria (Source). Prebiotics are digestible carbs that feed probiotics.

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EFFECTS OF PROBIOTICS

Probiotics live in our intestinal tract and they are key to keeping our GI system healthy.  The health of one’s gut is deeply intertwined to overall health – so probiotics have been called “the key to our immune system.”

80% of our brain hormones are made in the gut as well, which impacts how we feel mentally and emotionally.  These hormones interact with the brain based on the diversity of foods that we eat or strains consumed in a probiotic supplement.  Any food that is cultured or fermented contains probiotics, such as unpasteurized no sugar added plain yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, aged cheese such as Parmesan or Gouda, pickled veggies such as sauerkraut & kimchi, miso, tempeh, kombucha and beer and wine. (Source).  Adding fermented foods, which can contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement, to each meal is a great way to get that good bacteria into your body (Source). Besides keeping us regular, some of the main health benefits of probiotics are: an improved immune system, decreased inflammation, lower chances of colon cancer and reduced blood pressure and cholesterol.

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Eating a healthy and varied diet is very important because it keeps your microbiome running effectively and efficiently. Processed foods and sugars feed the bad bacteria, and antibiotics kill the good bacteria (along with the bad).  80 percent of our immune system is located in our gut, which is why our gut is the key to our health.  A strong immune system is your first defense against all sicknesses and diseases.  (Source)

A study at Duke University found that breastmilk, which is always touted for protecting newborns from illnesses, helps to normalize an infant’s microflora, which then protects against disease and developmental problems.  From this study,  “We know that babies who receive breast milk have better outcomes in many ways, and mother who breast feed also have improved health outcomes, including decreased risks of cancer. Whenever possible, promoting breast feeding is the absolute best option for mom and baby.”  It is interesting to make the connection now between breastfeeding and gut health.

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WHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?

Prebiotics are food for probiotics. Most prebiotics are a form of fiber which our body does not digest, but the probiotics do. Feeding the probiotics helps them to stay at work to keep us healthy. Some foods with prebiotics are raw garlic, leek, and onions, raw Jerusalem artichoke, tiger nuts, raw chicory root, whole wheat, fruits and vegetables and legumes.

SUPPLEMENTING WITH PROBIOTICS

The best way to consume probiotics and prebiotics is through food sources, but usually we fall short.  If you are looking for a probiotic supplement, the latest research is showing that spore-based probiotics have 100% gut survivability versus non-spore based probiotics. These probiotics have shown promise in preventing G.I. disorders as well.

Additionally, many professionals agree that these three strains have been found to be important: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium and saccharomyces boulardii (source) but based on your health needs, you can research what strains would be most beneficial to you.

Do you take a probiotic or eat various probiotic and prebiotic foods?

RECOMMENDED PROBIOTICS

Just Thrive Probiotic – spore based probiotic and unique antioxidant properties with 100% survivability. These withstand high heat and do not contain dairy, soy or common allergens.

Silver Fern Probiotic – spore forming probiotic, specially formulated to restore your gut health and resolve your stomach issues. DNA verified.

Bio Kult Probiotic – multi-species, multi-strain. Note: contains milk and soy.

Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22476557
https://academic.oup.com/femsre/article/29/4/813/493366

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