Gut Health - Probiotics 101
Are you familiar with probiotics? Chances are even if you haven’t used them yourself, you’ve heard a lot of talk about them. Probiotics are all the rage today and for good reason. In this blog post we’ll go over what a probiotic is, where they come from, and what they can do for you?
While probiotics may be the latest health craze, the concept that consuming bacteria can be beneficial to one’s health has actually been around for a long time.
In 1892 a cholera epidemic was sweeping France and a man named Ilya Metchnikoff, was struggling to understand why the disease struck some people and not others. To do so he consumed a drink full of cholera. Fortunately, he never got sick, so he let a volunteer drink some too. When that volunteer also failed to get sick Metchnikoff offered the drink to second test subject and that man got cholera and nearly died.
When Metchnikoff took his experiment into the petri dish to find out what caused such a difference, he discovered that some microbes hindered the cholera growth while others stimulated it. He then proposed that the bacteria of the human intestinal flora played a part in disease prevention and he reasoned swallowing a pathogenic bacteria culture sickened you, then swallowing a beneficial one would make you healthier.
Therefore, he decided the proper alteration of the intestinal flora could help battle diseases that plagued humans for centuries. He discovered that feeding the body lactic acid from fermented dairy products accomplishes the goal of manipulating gut bacteria.
So then, what exactly is a probiotic? The word is thrown around a lot on food, drinks, and supplement labels. Here’s an easy way to think of it.
Antibiotic means anti-life and probiotic means pro-life. Antibiotics kill bacteria while probiotics are full of live bacteria.
PROBIOTICS: LIVING ORGANISMS THAT ARE BENEFICIAL TO HEALTH WHEN ADMINISTERED IN ADEQUATE AMOUNTS
Now almost 100 years after the discovery of probiotics they are coming into favor again. Probiotics may have been forgotten for some time, but they have now found their place in mainstream conversations about gut health and general wellness.
This is great news!
So, who are these live organisms? They are the same bacteria as the good guys we have in the gut.
We all have them but due to our modern lifestyles full of antibiotics, antibacterial products and poor dietary choices, the average person has a reduced amount of these critters in their gut.
Abundance is important though because by supporting the life of your gut bacteria you’re also supporting your health and vitality. It’s no wonder that fermented foods and probiotics have been a part of many cultures. It’s almost like we intuitively knew, almost as if we had a gut feeling.
Fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics or have probiotics added to them include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses.
However, for some taking a probiotic supplements might be bad for you. As sighted in an article in WebMD https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/probiotics-risks-benefits#1 "because these good bacteria already exist in the body, probiotics are considered safe for most people but for some they can trigger an allergic reaction, cause mild stomach problems and if you have an immune system problem or another serious health conditions, you may have a greater chance of issues or side effects."
Always talk to your doctor before taking or trying a probiotic supplement to make sure they are right for you.