What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms which maintain the balance of bad and good bacteria in your digestive tract. Everyone has them!
In fact, our digestive tracts (which makes up more than 70 percent of our immune system) are flooded with trillions of bacteria – all alive. There are over 100 strains of probiotics, with more being discovered almost daily.
The root of the word probiotic comes from the Greek word pro, meaning “promoting” and biotic, meaning “life.”
Ever trust your ‘gut feeling’?
Research has shown that the network of neurons lining our guts is so extensive that it has now been nicknamed our “second brain.” This gut “brain” plays an essential role in certain diseases and communicates its status directly to our real brain (the one in our head!).
Our “second brain” is known as the enteric nervous system. It is a collection of neurons in the gastrointestinal tract that is meant to manage every aspect of digestion in all of the organs in the gut, including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon.
Sounds pretty important, right?
How do I get some probiotics?
Probiotics are normally consumed in fermented foods with active live cultures. Things like:
Kefir * Greek Yogurt * Aged Cheeses * Kimchi * Sauerkraut * Tempeh * Non- GMO Soy Sauce
They also make supplements. I’m not a big fan of supplements, especially these kind.
Here’s why I do not care for probiotics in supplement form:
Probiotic supplements are proprietary strains, which means they are formulated in a laboratory somewhere by several different companies so they can be patented. Each company has their own ‘secret and best’ formula available.
I’m sorry, I just don’t think you can beat nature.
Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years. I do feel they are an important part of our diet, and can offer far more valuable bacteria than something out of a lab.
The benefits of probiotics are important.
Though research is ongoing, there have been many positive reactions linked to probiotics. They are thought to:
- Treat diarrhea
- Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome
- Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
- Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
- Prevent and treat eczema in children
- Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu
- Be beneficial to brain function – probiotic bacteria might have the potential to change brain neurochemistry and treat anxiety and depression-related disorders, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
We use probiotics, just not supplements!
Everyone in my household drinks Kefir daily. Thankfully, they make a variety of flavors now so I do switch it up every week. But each day we all drink at least a cup of it, usually in the morning. It is so delicious and a great alternative to milk.
In addition, we eat (and I use in smoothies) Greek yogurt regularly; I serve sauerkraut periodically and I have been known to experiment with Tempe! And who does not love aged cheese with wine and crackers on a nice Sunday afternoon?! Check out my family meal plan to see how I work it all in!
Probiotics ARE an important part of maintaining balance in your body and your mental health. Talk to your doctor first and find out which probiotic strains are right for you. And don’t be so afraid of sauerkraut, you may just like it!
Malibu Mama Loves Xx