Probiotics (Your Friendly Gut Flora): The Bacteria for Good Health
Probiotics have been in your system from the very moment that you were born. When you travel through your mother’s birth canal during delivery, that’s when you were exposed to your mother’s bacteria for the very first time. This event started a cascade of events inside your gastrointestinal tract, your GI tract, and it started to produce good bacteria.
This rich gut microbial community is referred to as the microbiome, which plays a vital role in your immune system and overall health.
Now here’s a fun fact. The human brain weighs about three pounds, and a healthy human body will have about 3.5 to 5 pounds of probiotic bacteria and microbes. So, our bacteria are heavier than our brain, and they’re found primarily in our digestive system.
Did you know that our digestive systems are the second largest part of the neurological system? It’s called the enteric nervous system, and it’s located in the gut. That’s why it’s called our “second brain.”
In the past, the appendix was largely thought to be useless. But in 2007, Duke University researchers observed that when the body was under attack by pathogens, the appendix would release probiotic bacteria that would perfectly counter the specific type of invaders. Pretty cool, huh?
It’s vital to understand that the type and the quantity of bacteria/microbes in your gut interact with your body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of many diseases. The ideal ratio between the bacteria in your gut that are “good” is about 85% good and 15% “bad.” Maintaining this optimal ratio is essential for good health.
If this ratio gets out of balance for any reason, the condition is known as dysbiosis, which means that there’s an imbalance or too much of a certain type of fungus, yeast, or bacteria, that affects the body in a negative way.
By consuming certain types of probiotic foods and supplements, you can help bring these ratios back into balance. Remember? 85% good, 15% bad.
Not only does more than 70% of the human immune system reside in the gut, but the intestinal immune system produces more antibodies than the rest of the body put together. As a result, gastrointestinal secretions are rich as breast milk in health-promoting and disease-preventing factors.
Interestingly, the colostrum that you would get from mother’s milk has about 40% probiotic content.
Historically, we had plenty of probiotics in our diets from eating fresh foods grown from good soil and by fermenting our foods to keep them from spoiling. However, due to dangerous agricultural practices like soaking our foods with chlorine and also because of modern conveniences like refrigeration, our food contains little to almost no probiotics today, and most foods actually contain dangerous antibiotics that kill off the good bacteria in our bodies.
Raise your hand if you’ve had at least one round of antibiotics in your life. Okay, I saw everybody raising their hand. Just kidding, of course I can’t see you! But antibiotics are commonly used to kill infectious bacteria or to prevent an infection from occurring or spreading, such as after surgery. There’s no doubt that antibiotics have saved lives. But unfortunately, today, they’re prescribed like candy.
Also unfortunate about antibiotics is they cannot differentiate between the bad bacteria that may be causing the infection and the good bacteria that belong in your gut. Instead, antibiotics come through like a tsunami in your system, destroying everything in their path. They take a toll on the digestive system.
Many people with health issues, such as thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, and even autism and many other conditions, do not realize that these illnesses originate in the gut. If we have a sufficient supply of probiotics, our body goes into more of a rebuilding and an anabolic state. But if we don’t have enough probiotics, we go into a decaying and a rotting state.
So, what can you do to ensure that you have an ample supply of good bacteria in your gut?
#1: Be sure to include lots of sour and probiotic-rich foods in your diet. Apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, raw milk yogurt, natto, kombucha, lots of different fermented foods.
#2: Do your best to avoid substances that can destroy probiotics, like sugar, grains, GMOs, tap water, and antibiotics.
#3: Take a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Bottom line: Probiotics are absolutely essential for our overall health. We die from disease and we die from malnutrition if we do not have probiotics in our system. Your immune system will not function properly if you don’t have a sufficient supply of probiotics, and neither will your neurological system.
Here’s to your health. God bless.
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By Holistic nutritionist Salisha Peters
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