By: Jacqueline Otterbein
Probiotics are live microorganisms, also known as the “good bacteria” that help your digestive processes and digestive organs function optimally. While bacteria tend to get a bad rep, these microorganisms are essential in order to break down the foods we eat appropriately. Our gut is home to about 100 trillion of these beneficial microorganisms. It contains almost 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body, with over 400 known diverse bacterial species.
A healthy gut promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism, and encompasses more than 75% of our immune system. Achieving and maintaining a healthy gut can be attained by eating foods that already contain these helpful bacteria, such as fermented foods. The fermentation process encourages vital bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to flourish. Vegetables are submerged in a salty brine during preparation to kill off dangerous, pathogenic bacteria. The good bacteria break down lactose and other sugars and starches in the food, making digestion easier. Once they reach your gut, they continue to break down food and keep out harmful E. coli and C. difficile.
Supportive fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, tempeh, and pickles. These foods can help put the gut back into balance and replace the “good” bacteria that may have been lost through the overuse of antibiotics, diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods, dietary toxins, chronic stress and chronic infections.
If these fermented foods don’t sound appealing, there are other options to reaping the benefits of probiotics. While adding more probiotic foods to your diet is the best way to support digestive health, you can also try taking a daily probiotic supplement. There are countless different probiotic strands in many combinations, but Board-Certified Doctor of Natural Medicine, Michelle Schoffro Cook recommends Garden of Life RAW Probiotics Colon Care for general health. It can be purchased on Amazon for $28.
The most effective ways to maintain and restore a healthy gut is to remove all food toxins from your diet, focus on adding fermented foods into your diet, and taking steps to manage your stress. While it could seem challenging at first to work fermented foods into your daily meal routine, check out https://paleoleap.com/fermented-food-recipes/ for easy and nutritious recipes. In return, these steps to aid your gut flora will reduce inflammation and make you feel healthy and happy.