There are some things that I practice that aren't mainstream and sometimes aren't backed by science (many of them are, but that science just isn't making the news), but when something I practice is backed by science and is mainstream .. then you know it's worth paying attention.
What is a "Probiotic"?
Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms administered in adequate amounts which confer a beneficial health effect on the host” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Essentially, most living microorganisms are a type of single-celled bacteria that find their way into your gut and make themselves at home. The key to the bacteria--and the reason why we want them--is that they provide health benefits, rather than harm us.
There is a natural balance within our gut of "good" and "bad" bacteria. Bad bacteria exists, we know this. This is usually the source of many illnesses that have us calling in sick for work. What we don't usually talk about (until now) is the good bacteria. Probiotics is the term we use for this good bacteria.
Health benefits of probiotics
Probiotics can also help with brain functioning as well as depression and anxiety. Probiotics are also more well known for helping with digestive issues, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (and given the link between anxiety and IBS, this makes sense).
Research has suggested that probiotic bacteria can:
- Improve digestive function
- Help with side effects of antibiotic therapy
- Help reduce the risk of certain acute common infectious diseases
- Improve tolerance to lactose
- Enhance immune function
Overall, the beneficial bacteria touches on many areas of health and the research is growing, exponentially. In the world of research, these studies are fairly recent and with the focus from the media the funding and incentive to continue
Naturally sourced Probiotics
With all of the advertisements that we are bombarded with (and the latest celebrity endorsements) it's sometimes hard to believe that probiotics exist in nature ... but as is true with most truly healthful industries, of course it exists in nature! Probiotics are bacteria and bacteria lives and thrives in natural environment. Many easy sources are with unnatural food products, but many others come in natural forms.
I prefer probiotics from food to come in the form of Miso, Sauerkraut/Kimchi, and raw goat kefir/milk/cheese whenever I eat it (rarely). Otherwise, here is a list of items that provide probiotics:
- Yogurt (plain, unprocessed .. even raw is best)
- Aged cheeses
- Some soy beverages
- Garden of Life has an excellent variety that caters to the raw foods lifestyle.
- Nature's Plus offers a chewable tablet specifically for children, which is an incredible and natural aid for diarrhea.
- American Health offers a chewable tablet for adults that makes it fun and easy to take your probiotics on the go.
**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!
I like taking a supplement every morning on an empty stomach and then eating probiotics throughout the day. My favorite way is with miso but I also like throwing raw sauerkraut in a salad or drinking Kombucha. Every once in awhile I eat raw goat products, but this is rarely and mostly because I don't like the taste of raw Goat Kefir .. yuck! But I know that it is packed with the bacteria!
Check it out and see what it does for you. If you have any digestive issues this may be a great way to begin healing your digestion. Try it out and let me know!