Written by Jasmine Northfield, CNP
Probiotics seem to be the new hottest trend in the health world, but are they really all they have been talked up to be? Let’s take a look at what these little buggers actually do in our body and how they can contribute to a stronger and healthier you.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are part of the large number of living bacteria that reside and colonize in the human digestive tract. Most people automatically assume that bacteria must be bad as they usually carry a negative connotation, but these little guys are amazingly beneficial to us and are important to achieving overall health.
Together probiotics and other bacteria form what is known as our gut flora. It is important to have a higher ratio of beneficial bacteria to bad bacteria in our gut flora order to feel and look our best.
Why are probiotics important for achieving optimal health?
Probiotics are a necessary part of our immunity. They deter bad bacteria from overpopulating in the body, which keeps our immune systems in balance and stimulates its potential. We need that gut flora in order to fight off illness and other harmful pathogens- they provide us with the protection we need against infection!
If there is an imbalance in gut flora a person can become more susceptible to illness or disease. Things such as allergies, asthma, eczema and respiratory illness have all been connected to overgrowth of bad bacteria in the human body! If left for too long an imbalance could also lead to the development of autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease or heart disease.
Probiotics help in the digestion of our food and allow for optimal absorption of nutrients. These bacteria promote enzymes that help us breakdown food particles and also synthesize some important and essential nutrients (vitamin K2, B vitamins and some amino acids). They stimulate motility and reduce bloating in the digestive system so we can feel our best.
What can negatively affect our gut flora balance?
There are many factors today that damage the beneficial gut flora. Illness, poor diet, stress, the contraception pill, toxic substances or toxins in foods all promote the overgrowth of bad bacteria.
Antibiotics are particularly harmful. They do not discriminate between good and bad bacteria and instead attempt to wipe out the whole population. Therefore, we must take care to repopulate with beneficial flora after undergoing such a treatment. Even natural antibiotics like oregano oil can cause an imbalance.
Where can you find probiotics to build your gut flora?
Fermented foods are an amazing source of probiotics and an excellent way to include them in your everyday diet. There are all sorts of foods that fall into this category such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir, tempeh, tamari and even sourdough bread. The coconut yogurt in our Probiotic Jar is a great example of how to include these fermented foods at every meal and incorporate them into dishes you already enjoy. Kombucha is also a great source of probiotics- it feels like an indulgent treat with its similar to soda taste but has numerous benefits that sugary soft drinks will never have.
If you choose to supplement with probiotics make sure to find a multi-strain formula. There are many different strains of probiotics that serve different functions so make sure to have all your bases covered. (NFH or Genestra products are great examples).
So yes, probiotics are warrant the large splash they’ve caused. They can be helpful in so many different ways and can easily mend some chronic health concerns that plague society today. In short, bring on the bacteria!
Jasmine Northfield is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner at Village Juicery. In the past, she had struggled with her own personal health and began seeking out answers to her problems. Through her research she became interested in learning more about the inner workings of the body and their connection to nutrition, supplementation, and the mind/body/ spirit connection. Today she strives to help clients find easy but small changes in their lifestyle that can majorly affect their overall health.