Chances are you have heard of probiotics, but do you really know how beneficial they are for your health and immune system?
My first exposure to probiotics was Jamie Lee Curtis in the Activia commercial about 8 years ago. I had NO IDEA what they were, I just figured they were for… how do I say this… the older generation. I thought probiotics were for bathroom issues and since I didn’t have that, I didn’t give it any thought. Over the last 8 years probiotics have gained a lot of notoriety, wouldn’t you say?
It seems as though everywhere you look, companies are talking about probiotics. Vitamins, supplements, yogurt, special drinks, these probiotic guys are everywhere.
Here’s Why Probiotics Are Taking the Spotlight
Probiotics are a friendly (if you will) bacteria that find their home in our intestines. These friendly bacteria aid in proper digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.
Are you constantly sick, catching the most recent cold or illness floating around? You might need more probiotic to aid your intestinal system. 70-80% of our immune system resides in our gut and intestines.
Not enough of these friendly bacteria can also lead to skin issues such as eczema and acne, digestive disorders like IBS and Crohn’s, stress, anxiety, or depression. Yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and allergies are also a sign you don’t have enough of these healthy little bacteria.
There is also new research on probiotics and their ability to aid with autism spectrum disorder.
Why are probiotics such a hot topic NOW?
Our current diet standard is making probiotics such a crucial part of our daily life.
Starting with the abundance of processed foods. Processed sugars, bad fats, preservatives, and genetically modified foods, cause inflammation in the gut. These foods act like fertilizer for the bad bacteria in your gut. Our bodies try to fight off these invader bad bacteria and junk food. As a result, our immune system can suffer without the proper balance of healthy bacteria.
Crops are Growing Differently
It’s not just our processed foods, either. Our crop are not the same as they once word, leaving us depleted in some cases.
I hear it all the time, “well we ate that way when I was growing up and we turned out just fine.” That’s true! Here’s the problem though, over the years our food has become less nutritious because of soil depletion. Crops years ago, when my parents were growing up, were richer in probiotics, vitamins, and minerals.
A team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999. They found a decline in vitamins and minerals during that time frame. “Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Davis, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.”
In the past our foods had plenty of vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. Eating fresh foods from good soil and fermenting our food to keep it from spoiling was enough in the past. Today dangerous agricultural practices like soaking foods in chlorine has led us to food that contains little to not probiotics. Animal products like beef, poultry, eggs, and dairy contain antibiotics in them that kill the good bacteria in our bodies.
Other Gut Busters
Other things that can cause gut bacteria issues and gut lining problems. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen, antacids or acid blockers for reflux, and too much sugar and alcohol can cause gut bacteria to be out of balance. Since 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut, this can start to cause a breeding ground for disease or immune system issues.
How do you get more probiotics?
Okay, have I convinced you yet that you need more probiotics? After researching, I realized it was not just Jamie Lee Curtis and the “older” generation that needed probiotics. We all need probiotics with our current food situation. Along with a healthy diet of organic fruits, veggies, and organic animal products, we can start to encourage and maintain a healthy gut balance.
Getting more probiotics in your system as an adult can help an array of concerns, as mentioned above. Here are some ways to get more of these friendly bacteria in to your day to day.
Kefir can be fermented dairy products or fermented coconut water. Dairy kefir is similar to yogurt, but has higher healthy bacteria. Coconut kefir also has beneficial bacteria and organisms for gut health. This article here also shares how you can make your own coconut kefir.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has also gain popularity for its MANY health benefits. Not only does it help regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and help with acid reflux, it too provides good bacteria. You can take a daily shot of raw apple cider vinegar or make a salad dressing using olive oil and spices. Just make sure the apple cider is raw, preferably organic. There are typically floating particles in the bottle as well.
3. Kombucha and Probiotic Drinks
Kombucha is one of our favorite ways to get probiotics in our home. It is typically fermented black tea, so there is caffeine in kombucha. Many will say kombucha is an acquired taste, but I think it has everything to do with the flavor and brand. It also takes a few sips, too. Don’t expect the first sip to be koolaid magical.
My favorite kombucha brand is Kevita, which can be found in most grocery stores. They have a traditional kombucha drink. My favorite flavor is Pineapple Peach and Ginger. They also have caffeine free sparkling probiotic drink and apple cider vinegar drink made with water kefir. My FAVORITE drink right now is the Ginseng Mandarin Apple Cider Vinegar Drink. I wasn’t a huge fan of the turmeric flavor, FYI.
4. Cultured Vegetables
Good bacteria can be supported in your gut with fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut. Both are high in enzymes that aid in gut health. You can also make spiced fermented apples at home with this recipe. Fermented apples and vegetables are great on top of a salad. Kimchi makes a great topping on tacos, as well.
5. Raw Cheese
Goat’s and sheep’s milk are typically high in probiotics. It wasn’t until sitting down to research for this post that I found that goat’s milk is better than cow’s milk and is easier to digest because it is lower in lactose. We don’t eat dairy in our home, so I am not sure how accurate this is. I still have to research this, but for today I will keep going. Make sure to buy raw and unpasteurized cheese for probiotic benefits.
6. Probiotic Supplements
There are probiotic supplements also you can take daily. Choosing the right probiotic is important because there are different bacteria strains and quality. I wouldn’t recommend just picking one up off a shelf without doing your research. Certain strains of bacteria help certain ailments.
For example, L. acidophilus, L. casei and B. bifidum can help with brain health, decrease depression, and decrease anxiety. Lactobacillus GG, Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum increases your body’s defenses against allergies, infections and cancer. Bifidobacterium bifidum is great for general health.
I like Hyperbiotics Mom. Before becoming pregnant, Hyperbiotics Pro15 was my go to. I am currently loving Hyperbiotics Pro Women because it has cranberry extract and D-manoose for urinary tract health.
Children can also benefit from probiotics, including infants. I also have probiotics I give my little one, BioGaia Infant Probiotic Drops. I chose this brand after careful research. These drop don’t contain artificial colors, dairy, soy and GMO ingredients. I just add them to his bottle or on the nipple before he nurses. This article here is great to show the different brands for infants and children.
Focusing on Gut Health
it can be easy to think of gut health as only relating to symptoms of IBS or tummy issues. Bad gut health can cause other disease like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, allergic diseases like asthma and eczema and even depression, ADD and autism. If you are using probiotics to boost your immune system, you might also be interested in a few other immune boosting recipes I have shared here on the blog.
Probiotics are a focus of our home. Maintaining a whole foods diet using organic foods 80% or more of the time and enjoying probiotic rich foods makes me feel as though we are on the right track. We keep our fridge stocked with Kombucha and probiotic drinks, but these can also be high in sugar. Kimchi and sauerkraut make great salad or taco toppers. Finally, a probiotic supplement is something we also take.
There are so many ways to get probiotics in to your daily routine. If you you use probiotics, please share with us some of your ideas!
Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for your support. It is greatly appreciated.
**A final disclaimer, because our day and age requires that I tell you… I am not a doctor, I am just a wife and mom on the hunt for improving my family’s health. I share my research and experience with you in hopes that it inspires you to start your own research and quest to improve your family’s health. The opinions above are my own and should not be used as medical advice…. But i am sure you already knew that! 😉 **