Probiotics and Gut Health
Gut health and probiotics are now all the rage in Medicine in the popular media these days and for good reason. Most animals, including us, are not merely single organisms, but multi-cellular collections of them. We are all living in symbiosis with the bacteria, viruses & yeasts that make up our intestinal lining and colonize our skin. Throughout human history, we have relied on this collection of organisms (called ‘flora’) for our health. Why do some people’s cuts get infected easily, while others seem to be fine? The answer, in addition to our internal immune function (which is dependent to a large degree on our nutritional status) is due to the balance of microbes that colonize our skin. When that balance is healthy, immunity will be strong (those microbes will also battle invading ones from the cut). If however, we use antibacterial soaps containing the antibiotic triclosan too much, the imbalance that will be caused by this chemical in our skin flora will make infections more likely.
In a similar way, the microbes that inhabit our guts not only help us with digestion and absorption, but also with sleep, immunity, obesity and mental health. Not bad eh?
How do these microbes do this? When we eat, they help to break up difficult to digest foods, synthesize vitamins (like B12), and overpower invasive organisms that could cause disease if unchecked.
What is bad though, is the lack of fermented probiotic foods in our western, highly processed, sugar and antibiotic laden diet. When we take antibiotics, it is essentially like carpet-bombing our intestines. We kill off a lot of the beneficial bacteria. The ones that survive, then tend to overgrow and cause a whole host of digestive disorders.
What’s a part of the solution? Incorporate fermented foods into your diet. Examples of these are kefir, natto, miso, kimchee, yogurt & sauerkraut.
By incorporating these foods into our regular diet, we continually re-seed our guts with these beneficial bacteria and ensure continued good health.
In the morning, before any food, take a shot glass full of organic plain kefir, add a couple of drops of vanilla extract for flavor and a teaspoon of lemon flavored cod liver oil (Vitamin A & D). Mix them together and down it! Nice and easy and takes only two minutes or less.
Making the other above mentioned foods part of your daily diet also helps, as does washing with plain ‘ole soap as opposed to the “anti-bacterial” variety.
Join me next week when we talk about Catharsis & Emotional Constipation.
Be Well and Be Zen