A lot is being written these days about the importance of probiotics for maintaining or restoring good health. Probiotics are micro-organisms, mostly friendly bacteria and some yeasts, that we consume to create a healthy and balanced gut microbiome. Probiotics are essential to our health – an unbalanced gut microbiome produces chronic inflammation in the gut and in other parts of the body, leading to all sorts of autoimmune diseases and other serious health problems. If your gut microbiome is lacking in probiotics, pathogenic bacteria can move in opportunistically and take over.
There are three types of probiotics (Huffnagle, 2008):
Ones that can live in your gut only a day or two after ingestion
Ones that are able to live in there for a few weeks
Ones that can colonize your gut and stay permanently – unless they’re killed off by taking antibiotics
Most probiotic supplements on the market are the second type. Remember to take probiotic supplements just before each meal (15 minutes or less before eating).
A variety of probiotics, including highly beneficial Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, are found plentifully in naturally fermented foods such as:
Yogurts with live bacteria
Cultured dairy products such as buttermilk, sour cream & enriched cottage cheese
Naturally fermented pickles, sauerkraut, kimchee & miso
Probiotics are created naturally during the fermentation process. Pickles, sauerkraut, and other foods that have been “pickled” with vinegar do not contain probiotics.
Probiotics are living micro-organisms. Exposure to heat kills them so they won’t be able to provide you with their full benefit if you cook them.
Here’s a useful WebMD slide show on the topic: Slideshow: Top Foods for Probiotics.
Information from Good Bacteria Supplements – Probiotics Create A Healthy Life Gut Check, an article about the role of probiotics posted on ArthritisReliefNaturally.com:
Medical researchers are finding that one of the keys to good health could be tied directly to the good bacteria living in our guts – specifically, in the world of microbes that live in our digestive tracts.
Historically, until about 2001, probiotics were considered only within the realm of complementary and alternative medicine. As our understanding of the immune system and how it works has expanded, so has the understanding of the importance of probiotics and probiotic microbes in the gastrointestinal tract in regulating the immune system.
One of the country’s leading researchers into the world of probiotics is Gary Huffnagle, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Health System, a professor of internal medicine and microbiology and immunology. He has published more than 90 articles about microbes and the immune system in peer-reviewed scientific journals, academic reviews and textbooks. He is the co-author of The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements.
Huffnagle’s research documents the key role of good bacteria probiotics and prebiotics in restoring healthy balance to our bodies, improving immune system functioning, and curbing inflammation.
He advocates the use of probiotic foods and supplements to prevent and relieve allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, and the negative side effects of antibiotic use.
He presents new evidence that probiotics may help fight asthma, cardiovascular disease, breast and colon cancer, autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, gout, etc), chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia—and even obesity (a factor in joint pain and overall health).
New evidence that good bacteria fight many diseases
“We’re now finding that eliminating all the good microbes from our body results in a weaker immune system, which we believe is leading to problems such as increased incidence of chronic disease, including allergies like asthma,” Huffnagle says. “Once you take antibiotics as your physician prescribed, follow it with some form of probiotic supplement to get the microflora in your gut back to where it should be. Your recovery and your health will be much greater.”
Since probiotic microbes do not cause disease, there’s no such thing as having too much of them.
PREbiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that promote the growth of beneficial micro-organisms in the intestines. Foods that are high in soluable fiber will provide good prebiotics in your gut, allowing your probiotics to thrive so you can avoid illness and enjoy good health.
WANT TO READ MORE?
If you want to learn more about prebiotics and probiotics, I recommend taking a look at Gary Huffnagle’s excellent book The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements.
It presents the important relationship between our digestive system and our immune system in an informative, easy to understand way. Huffnagle is Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School and a leading authority on the role of the gut microbiome on inflammatory processes (Huffnagle, 2008).
From a Publisher’s Weekly review of Dr Huffnagle’s book:
The Probiotic Revolution by Gary Huffnagle PhD – Holding antibiotics and poor diet responsible for any number of autoimmune disorders – allergies, asthma, skin problems and chronic inflammation – renowned immunology specialist Huffnagle presents, with infectious enthusiasm, the cure for a trigger-happy immune system: probiotics, the good microbes found in fermented foods like yogurt, aged cheese, kefir and kimchi. Once probiotics are introduced to the system, they begin killing off potentially harmful bugs by competing for resources; the resulting balance, Huffnagle shows, will restore proper
If you want more information, I also recommend these books and websites:
By Sarah Ballantyne, PhD – AKA The Paleo Mom:
The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body (Ballantyne, 2014)
By Amy Myers, MD:
ArthritisReliefNaturally.com. (2008). Good Bacteria Supplements – Probiotics Create A Healthy Life Gut Check. See: http://www.arthritis-relief-naturally.com/good-bacteria.html
Ballantyne, S. (2014). The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. See: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1936608391?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=1936608391&linkCode=xm2&tag=wwwthepaleomo-20
Ballantyne, S. (2014). ThePaleoMom.com. See: http://www.thepaleomom.com/about-sarah-2
Huffnagle, G. with Wernick, S. (2008). The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements. See: http://www.amazon.com/The-Probiotics-Revolution-Definitive-Supplements/dp/0553804928/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0
Myers, A. (2014). AmyMyersMD.com. See: http://www.amymyersmd.com/
Myers, A. (2015). The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases. See: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062347470/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0062347470&linkCode=as2&tag=ammymd-20&linkId=LDMIVZQVD46VKEFZ
WebMD. (2014). Slideshow: Top Foods for Probiotics. See: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/probiotics-10/slideshow-probiotics
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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.