Probiotics hold the key not just for better health and a stronger immune system, but also for healing digestive issues, mental health illness, and neurological disorders. New research is continuing to prove that probiotic benefits and side effects go far beyond what we previously thought. In this complete probiotic guide you will learn everything you would ever need to know about probiotics including the top 10 probiotic foods, best probiotic supplements and how to use them.
Probiotic Benefits Begin in the GUT
The first and most overlooked reason that our digestive tract is critical to our health is because 80 percent of your entire immune system is located in your digestive tract! That is an astounding percentage.
In addition to the impact on our immune system, our digestive system is the second largest part of our neurological system. It is called our enteric nervous system and is located in our gut. This is why it is called our second brain!
Many people with health issues such as thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, autism, and many other conditions do not realize that these illnesses originate in the gut.
If these issues and many others are connected to our gut health, then what elements are essential for digestive health? Consider this: “According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), upward of 60 to 70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases.
“236,000 US citizens die of digestive-related disease every year and 1.9 million are disabled. Digestive disease and disorder cost the US over $100 billion per year.”1
Health Begins in the Gut Infographic
These statistics are staggering, yet poor gut health actually affects much greater numbers than these statistics illustrate. That’s because your digestive health affects every physiological system in your body.
And the many toxins we’re subjected to today decrease digestive function, affecting our ability to utilize nutrients, rid ourselves of cholesterol, triggering chronic inflammation in the body which is the cause of many chronic conditions and diseases.
The secret to restoring your digestive health is all about balancing out the good and bad bacteria in your gut. If you are going to be healthy you MUST consider consuming probiotic rich foods and supplements daily.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. There are actually 10 times lacto bacillusmore probiotics in your gut then cells in your body!
Your skin and digestive system by themselves host about 2,000 different types of bacteria. Probiotic benefits have been proven effective in supporting immune function and healthy digestion, as well as beautiful skin.
Your good gut bacteria is also responsible for:
Producing vitamin B-12, butyrate and vitamin K2
Crowding out bad bacteria, yeast and fungi
Creating enzymes that destroy harmful bacteria
Stimulating secretion of IgA and regulatory T Cells
Probiotics have been in our systems right from the moment that we stepped into the world. When a newborn is in the birth canal of the mother during delivery, that’s when the baby is exposed to the bacteria of his or her mother for the first time. This event starts a chain of events inside the baby’s GI tract, and the infant’s GI tract starts to produce good bacteria.
Most people, including children, are in need of a probiotic boost due to the use of prescription medication particularly antibiotics as well as high carbohydrate diets, the consumption of chlorinated and fluoridated water, and conventional foods such as non-organic meat and dairy that contain antibiotic residues. These chemicals kill off probiotics in your system, which over time will damage your digestive tract.2
The Top 7 Probiotic Killers include:
Chemicals and medications
In order to improve your gut flora balance, make sure to avoid the probiotic killers. We are exposed to many of these foods, toxins and stressors on a daily basis, and if you’re going to restore your digestive health, they must be addressed. If they’re not addressed, your gut micro-organisms become imbalanced and your system can become a breeding ground for bad bacteria, yeast, viruses, fungi and parasites.3
The only way to fix this issue and heal your gut is to eliminate the foods that feed bad bacteria and to start consuming probiotic-rich foods and supplements.
20 Probiotic Benefits Proven by Research
The strongest evidence to date finds that probiotic benefits include:
boosting immune systemresearch Lab Technician
prevent and treat urinary tract infections
improve digestive function
heal inflammatory bowel conditions like IBS4
manage and prevent eczema in children
fight food-borne illnesses
New studies underway may soon prove that probiotics can:
reduce flu and colds
reduce overuse of antibiotics
treat kidney stones
prevent cavities and gum disease
treat colitis and Crohn’s disease
combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria
treat liver disease
fight bacteria that causes ulcers
Are There Probiotic Side Effects?
Probiotic side effects can sometimes include diarrhea if you take too much too fast. You can start off with a smaller amount like one tablespoon of kefir or one probiotic capsule a day and work your way up.
But overall, the side effects of probiotics are nothing but positive!
How Probiotics Work
Your gut contains both beneficial and harmful bacteria. Digestive experts agree that the balance of gut flora should be approximately 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria.
If this ratio gets out of balance, the condition is known as dysbiosis, which means there is an imbalance of too much of a certain type of fungus, yeast or bacteria that is affecting the body in a negative way. By consuming certain types of probiotics foods and supplements you can help bring these ratios back into balance.
Probiotic Health Benefits Diagram
Also, it is important to understand that probiotics are not a new idea. Throughout history, cultures have thrived on probiotics found in fermented and cultured foods, which were invented for food preservation long before the refrigerator.
In fact, the refrigerator could be one of the worst inventions for you digestive health because now we don’t have to culture or ferment our foods to keep them from spoiling so we lose out on those vital probiotics.
Health Benefits of Probiotic Foods
fermented vegetables in jars According to neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
“Every traditional culture, when you look at their traditional diet, they ferment their foods. They fermented everything. You can ferment dairy, grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, meats, and fish. Everything can be fermented, and there were fermented beverages in every culture. When the cabbages were ripe in September, you made it a fermented cabbage.
Perhaps for a month or two, you were eating fresh cabbage, but then for the rest of the year, 10 months of the year, you ate your cabbage in a fermented form. Quite a large percent of all the foods that people consume on a daily basis were fermented. And with every mouthful of these fermented foods you consume trillions of beneficial bacteria;”
Fermented foods have been consumed for over 5000 years and even in the past 100 years certain cultures have excelled on probiotic rich foods.
Germans consumed sauerkraut, Indians consumed lassi, Bulgarians consumed kefir, Asians cultures consumed kimchi, Russians consumed raw yogurt, and Kenyan’s consumed amasi.
Fermented foods give you way more units of probiotics and strains of probiotics than a supplement ever will. When Dr. McBride tested the fermented vegetables, she found that her vegetables had trillions of probiotic units and over 30 strains, which means her one serving of fermented vegetables was equal to an entire bottle of probiotics.
Dr. McBride also states that, “Nature is extremely wise and populated all organic fruit and vegetables, the dust on our soils, and all plant matter with Lactobacilli. The fresh cabbage leaves, if it’s organically grown (not the one from chemical farming), will be covered in Lactobacilli lacto-fermenting bacteria. You don’t need to add anything. You just chop it up. Add some salt in the initial stages. (The salt is added in the initial stage in order to stop putrefactive bacteria from multiplying.) Then as the Lactobacillus stop working and start multiplying, they produce lactic acid. That’s why they’re called Lactobacillus. That’s just lactic acid.
If you look at the research in lactic acid, it is one of the most powerful antiseptics. It kills off lots and lots of bad bacteria…. So as the lactic acid starts producing, it will kill off all those putrefactive and pathogenic microbes and preserve the food. It’s a great preservative… A good batch of sauerkraut can keep for five to six years without spoiling or rotting, as long as it is covered by its own juice.”
This process of fermentation does even more than preserve your food — it also makes the nutrients in the food more bio-available. According to Dr. McBride, the amount of bio-available vitamin C in sauerkraut is 20 times higher than in fresh cabbage!6
One of the other aspects that make the probiotic benefits in fermented foods so amazing is that they also kill off bad bacteria!
The healthy bacteria, or probiotics, live longer than the unhealthy ones and actually help to end the bad bacteria reign in the gut. This decrease in “bad bacteria” like candida and h. pylori naturally benefits the body with less illness and diseases and lower rates of inflammation.