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What’s So Good About… Probiotics?

Posted Jan 03 2014 5:57am

what's so good about... probiotics

Note I used to be an advocate of taking different supplements to support physical health. I had a big jar of pills that I would pop everyday, on the advice of my naturopath. But in recent years I have focused on getting what I need from food and daily routines, and now take the bare minimum of pills plus a few more when I’m unwell.

The one thing, however, that I will never stop taking is Probiotics. After many years of suffering from digestive related issues, and after researching the importance of Probiotics, I want to share with you what I have discovered. I would go so far as to argue that if you had to choose between a multivitamin and a Probiotic, the Probiotic would win hands down in terms of benefits.

80% of your immune system is located in your digestive system, making a healthy gut a major focal point if you want to maintain good health.

What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microbial organisms that are naturally present throughout the length of the digestive tract and the urogenital area. These micro-organisms are considered beneficial and are sometimes referred to as “friendly” bacteria or micro-flora. There are many types of beneficial bacteria, some require oxygen to live, some require an absence of oxygen and some can exist in either. 10% of our bodyweight is made up of live bacteria and they live in many different parts of the digestive tract. We depend on them for our existence, which is a pretty amazing when you think about it.

The website Green Med Info has assembled an amazing list of more than 200 medical studies, covering more than 170 diseases, which were helped or treated with Probiotics.

Why Take Probiotics?
Probiotics are taken by people to treat:

  • Issues caused by antibiotic use
 (eg. diarrhea, bloating)
  • Side effects of radiation therapy
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Yeast infections (candida, mastitis)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Leaky Gut Syndrome

Research shows that Probiotics can also help:

  • Immune function
  • Aid food allergies such as Lactose Intolerance
  • Prevent colds and flu
  • Treat allergic rhinitis / hayfever
  • Alleviate constipation
  • Pregnancy and newborn

From what I can read, there is also promising research that Probiotics:

  • Reduces cholesterol levels
  • Improves blood glucose levels
  • Reduces stress
  • Helps prevent colon cancer

How Do You Know When Your Gut is Out of Whack?
While I do my best to avoid foods that aggravate my gut, there are some things I can’t control. It turns out that gut bacteria are very vulnerable to lifestyle and environmental factors like sugar/fructose, refined grains, processed foods, antibiotics, chlorinated and fluoridated water, antibacterial soaps, agricultural chemicals and pesticides plus pollution.

Here are some signs that unhealthy bacteria have taken over too much real estate in your gut, and that you probably need to add some healthy Probiotics to your diet:

  • Gas and bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Sugar cravings & carb foods
  • Depression
  • Low immunity

What Probiotics To Take?
There are different strains of Probiotics. For example, I eat a lot of fermented foods ( click here to see some of my recipes ) which I find help a lot. But probiotic strains in fermented foods are limited to the more common strains such as L CASEI, but these strains may not be what your gut is lacking.

Lactobacillus Rhamnosus a superstar Probiotic and also plays a central role in regulating the immune system. Lactobacillus Plantarum is another important Probiotic species due to it’s anti-inflammatory effect, which helps with a lot of bowel issues.

Prebiotics Help Probiotics Work
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that provide a food source for Probiotics bacteria and help the bacteria adhere to the wall of the digestive tract. In simple terms, without a food source the Probiotic bacteria won’t be as effective. Natural sources of prebiotics are onions, asparagus, chicory, and banana.

Which Probiotic Brand To Go With?
I’m not one to advocate brands on Vegematarian but Life Space have the best range of Probiotics in Australia. Their products contain a strong selection of beneficial bacteria at very high levels and also contains a fructose free prebiotic within the same capsule. Unlike other brands, their Probiotics are 100% natural and vegan friendly and don’t have to be refrigerated.

I’ve noticed such a difference since taking Probiotics over the last 2 years and I’ve heard so many great stories from others too. I highly recommend you give them a try over 6 months and see the improvements!

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