Do Probiotics Work To Improve Your Gut Flora?
Historically, fermented or cultured foods were a common part of most people’s diets. In fact, for thousands of years fermentation was one of the best ways to keep foods preserved before the advent of refrigeration. Until recent decades, probiotic-rich fermented foods provided huge numbers of beneficial bacteria to “reseed” people’s gut flora. But today, our healthy heritage of eating fermented foods has been nearly forgotten.
We’ve been programmed to believe that all bacteria are bad and that all bacteria must be killed in our foods. So modern foods are processed and pasteurized to remove all the bacteria, including the good bacteria we need to be healthy and fight off infections. To add insult to injury, processed foods contain fewer nutrients and are full of harmful, probiotic-killing ingredients, such as artificial dyes, flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners.
So what are some of the most common probiotic “killers”? It’s no wonder modern societies struggle with epidemics like diabetes, heart disease and recurring infections. The probiotics we need to stay healthy are being systematically killed in our food and depleted from our bodies. Below are the most common ways you can deplete your gut of healthy, immune-strengthening probiotic flora:
- Taking antibiotic drugs (especially without probiotics).
- Eating processed foods.
- Eating antibiotic-fed beef and other antibiotic contaminated meat.
- Stress and lack of sleep.
- Many prescription medications, including acid blockers, NSAIDS and corticosteroids.
- Exposure to antibacterial ingredients and environmental toxins from foods, personal care products, cleaning agents and other day-to-day sources.
- Infections and other disease conditions that affect your flora.
What most people don’t realize is that probiotics in food naturally keep the “bad bacteria” in check. By killing off the good bacteria in our foods, in our digestive system and on our skin, we leave the door wide open for bad, disease-causing bacteria to get a foothold. A great way to swing the balance back in your favor is to say no to processed foods and embrace traditionally fermented foods as a windfall for our health.
So maybe you are now convinced that you would like to begin incorporating probiotic foods into your diet. For most people though that unfortunately leads to many more questions they have themselves or have heard from friends or the internet. Is sauerkraut or store bought pickles probiotic? What does it mean when you say Lacto-fermented? Is kombucha probiotic? Are fermented foods alcoholic? Is it good for my digestion? The list of questions can go on and on.
So it can all be very unfamiliar and confusing. But unlike the process of fermentation, it's best to absorb the information slowly. So what I have done is put together this whole website as a resource; you can find many articles aimed at providing some information as to what are these foods I have and why they are important (check out the menu above). Having knowledge is power and remember, if you take care of your digestion, your digestion will always take care of you.
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NOTE: To proceed to step 4 of the learning class, head over and discover whether there is a different between "fermented" foods and "probiotic" foods. Take a few minutes to learn what exactly are fermented foods and why they are so good for you.