Did you know that humans are the host of approximately 100 trillion microorganisms living inside of each of us? It’s true! In fact, a high percentage of these microorganisms reside in what’s called our gut microbiota, also known as our gut flora. What comprises this magnificent intestinal flora is the beneficial bacteria we call, probiotics.
What are probiotics?
The word probiotic literally means “for life.” All in all, without these synergetic companions we would lack the ability to digest our food and absorb the health promoting nutrients necessary to keep us vibrant and active.
How does our gut get compromised?
Researchers are finding that our gut flora can be tremendously compromised by the indiscriminate and over-use of antibiotics. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is increasingly emphasizing the importance of taking the ‘right’ antibiotics for the ‘right’ reasons. Treating any and all illness with antibiotics is not the answer to complete wellness; however, if you do get sick, and your doctor prescribes antibiotics, you can keep the nasty side-effects in check by beefing up your diet with foods high in probiotics or by adding a high quality probiotic supplement to your diet.
Consequences of a compromised gut
When our beneficial flora becomes compromised, our immune system also becomes compromised leaving us susceptible to a host of intestinal disorders, including some hard to treat antibiotic-resistant infections such as, Clostridium difficile infection. It’s these antibiotic-resistant strains responsible for the CDC’s public encouragement of antibiotic-use to be limited to bacterial infections, not viral infections.
How can we take care of our friendly bacteria?
One solution is to maintain a healthy balance of these ‘friendly’ bacteria, already residing in our gut, by feeding them what they need to thrive and multiply. This is where prebiotics come into play. Meaning that, prebiotics are the fibrous food that feed, fertilize, and protect our body’s precious probiotic population. Besides providing a healthy dose of fiber into our diets, prebiotics are the fuel necessary to keep our probiotics working at their full potential. Likewise, prebiotics are beneficial in increasing fecal transit time, clearing our colon of the harmful toxins thought to be responsible for increasing the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Here are some food choices rich in prebiotics and probiotics;
Fermented foods rich in probiotics;
- Live-culture yogurt
- Dairy-free coconut yogurt
- Soy Sauce
- Sourdough bread
Fibrous food rich in prebiotics;
- Flax and chia seeds
- Onions and garlic
- Wheat berries, wheat germ, and sprouted wheat bread
- Maple syrup
- Spinach and artichokes
- Leeks and Legumes
- Chicory root
- Blueberries and un-peeled apples