The importance of probiotics for your health

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Taking a good probiotic every day can do wonders to your health and overall well-being. Probiotics help you preserve a healthy digestive environment and play a critical role in our immune system, 80 percent of which resides in our gut. Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria — more than 10 times the number of cells you have in your entire body. The type and quantity of micro-organisms in your gut interact with your body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of many diseases. When we are healthy we should have 80 to 85 percent friendly bacteria. When there is an overbalance of unfriendly bacteria in our system, and the percentage of friendly bacteria diminishes, it creates a condition known as dysbiosis.

There are a few factors that can contribute to increased number of unfriendly bacteria, such as

  • excessive antibiotic consumption (both directly and from consuming meat and dairy products containing antibiotics)
  • consuming too many artificial chemicals and sugar
  • medication
  • drinking chlorinated and fluorinated water
  • constipation and poor digestion
  • stressful and pollution-filled environment

Probiotics can help restore our internal balance and will increase our vibrancy and overall health in the following ways:

  • improve digestive functions, helping to eliminate constipation and diarrhea
  • improve liver function
  • improve resistance to allergies
  • improve vitamin synthesis, and specifically the manufacturing of B vitamins
  • increase energy
  • improve the absorption of nutrients
  • help eliminate bloating and heartburn
  • help reduce acne and skin problems

You can find probiotics in the following foods:

1.Yoghurt  

I do not refer to the store bought yoghurt as it actually does not contain much probiotics as all, as pasteurization destroys many of the naturally occurring probiotics. I refer to the handmade, live-cultured yoghurt (I am Bulgarian after all). And even if I have stopped consuming dairy I enjoy raw homemade yoghurt, especially from goat’s milk, whenever I go to Bulgaria. Goat’s milk and cheese are particularly high in probiotics like thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus, and it is the only dairy that I would recommend consuming every now and then.

2. Kefir

Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of goat’s milk and fermented kefir grains. High in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, kefir is also rich in antioxidants. Look for a good, organic version at your local health food shop.

3. Sauerkraut

I do not refer to the saurakraut you get alongside a sausage or hot dog, but rather to the raw fermented sauerkraut. It is easy to make saurkraut at home, and this can be an optimal source of probiotics.

4. Miso 

Miso is a paste made from soybeans, and fermented rye, rice and barley. Adding 1 tablespoon to hot water or to your soup can make a wonderful probiotic-rich drink, full of good bacteria. Beyond its important live cultures, miso is extremely nutrient-dense and believed to help neutralize the effects of environmental pollution, alkalize the body and stop the effects of carcinogens in the system.

5. Pickles 

Believe it or not, the common green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics.

6. Tempeh

Tempeh is a fermented, probiotic-rich grain made from soy beans. A good source of vitamin B12 you can add tempeh to your food, as it makes for a great meat substitute. It is a much healthier and beneficial option than tofu.

7. Kimchi 

An Asian form of pickled sauerkraut, this is a spicy and sour fermented cabbage, served alongside meals mainly in Korea. A great probiotic-rich food, mainly for the spicy food lovers!

8. Kombucha tea

Kombucha is a form of fermented tea that contains a high amount of healthy gut bacteria. This probiotic drink has been used for centuries and is believed to help increase your energy, enhance your well being and maybe even help you lose weight. However, kombucha tea may not be the best fit for everyone, especially those that have had problems with candida.

You can also supplement probiotics, but keep in mind that not all supplements are as effective as they should be. Probiotics are living organisms and they are their benefits can only be realized if they reach your intestine alive. So if shopping for probiotics look for one that has a specialized delivery system designed to support the safe transport of live cells into the intestine. You want to have variety of beneficial cultrures. Lactobacillus acidophilus is a common strain and is particularly useful to ger candida under control. Bifidobacterium bifidum assists with promoting general immunity.

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