What is the deal with probiotics, anyway?

By Patti Sliwany (photo by Yasmina Haryono)

What are probiotics, and why should someone bother taking them?
Probiotics are a source of beneficial bacteria, or flora, that the body needs in order to maintain a healthy intestinal tract/digestive system.
We are living in a rapidly changing world where the toxins and chemicals in our food, air, and water are becoming too excessive for our little bodies to fight off. The result is the beneficial bacteria that naturally occurs within our intestinal tract is dying off, and the bad bacteria, parasites and viruses that also live within our insides, are taking over and wreaking havoc on our bodies. Probiotics allow temporary colonies of good bacteria to enter the intestinal tract and fight off the “bad guys,” all while allowing your intestines to heal themselves. This is much different than antibiotics, which kill both good and bad, further weakening the immune system.
And since 80 per cent of our immune system is located in the intestinal tract, this is the most important place to start in order to achieve optimal health. If your good flora is out of balance, all the herbs, fruits and vegetables in the world won’t help your digestive issues.
Where do probiotics naturally occur and what foods contain them?
Probiotics naturally occur in all “live ferments.” These include: kimchi, sauerkraut, unpasteurized pickles, and kefir. Kefir is a cultured dairy product that far surpasses yogurt in its beneficial bacteria content. Most of the good bacteria in yogurt is insufficient to what the body needs to regenerate itself, and often causes more harm than good to people that have a dairy sensitivity.
Since kefir is so highly cultured, the good bacteria feeds on the lactose in the milk, so by the time it reaches your lips, it is virtually 99.99 per cent lactose-free. When purchasing these fermented foods, make sure they are all found in the refrigerated section and specify that they are unpasteurized.
If a product is pasteurized, it means it’s been heated to a certain temperature to kill bad bacteria and to allow for a longer shelf life. The problem is this process kills all the good stuff too, in which case eating these foods can make your condition even worse.
What are the most important probiotic strains to take?
One of the most important strands to take is Bacillus laterosporus BOD, not to be confused with its counterpart, Bacillus laterosporus (without BOD). There are many strands of probiotics out there, but unfortunately not all do what we want them to.
This particular strand, Bacillus laterosporus BOD, has been tested and proven to kill yeast and candida, as well as more nasty bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. This is incredible considering modern antibiotics are unsuccessful at destroying these bacteria and only worsen our condition. Probiotics have the ability to kill and heal all at the same time!
What health conditions can be improved by taking probiotic supplements?
It is amazing what probiotics can do! The list is lengthy, but some common and important ailments they can help avert are: gas, bloating, heartburn, digestive issues, IBS, chronic fatigue, Epstein-Barr, mood swings, anxiety, depression, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain, frequent colds, UTIs, yeast infections, sinus issues, infertility and irregular menses, and prostate infections.
Stop by a health food store and pick up a probiotic-rich product today!
Patricia Sliwany is a board-certified holistic nutritionist, and founder of Alive & Aware Holistic Health. Alive & Aware offers one-hour workshops, customized lunch-and-learn series, and three- to 12-month individual or group coaching initiatives. The programs utilize a state-of-the-art, science-based curriculum designed by physicians and nutritionists for those who want to take charge of their health and prevent disease. To find out which program meets the needs of you or your organization, please visit http://www.aliveandaware.ca, or contact Patti at patti@aliveandaware.ca or 204-997-2031.

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