Often the subject of probiotics comes up in my conversations and invariably the other person says they eat yogurt. Let's shine some light on the subject of probiotics, gut health, and the immune system.
Our overuse of antibiotics and our western (Standard American Diet, S.A.D.) diets are wreaking havoc on our GI tracts. Pop tarts, biscuits, toast and jelly, and honey buns for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta, pizza, or burgers for dinner, all washed down with coke and coffee destroy gut health, beneficial bacteria, and our immunity.
Talk About Over Crowding!
There are trillions of bacteria lining the gastrointestinal tract. There are beneficial, harmful and neutral bacteria. Ideally, there should be 80% beneficial/neutral and 20% harmful. The beneficial bacteria are called probiotics. They play a role in making vitamins such as B-12 and K. They aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients, kill harmful bacteria, aid in promoting colon health and bowel regularity. Since over 70% of our immune system is in our GI tracts, probiotics play an important role in helping us resist disease.
Better Than a Pill
The best way to improve gut health is to clean up the diet. Raw vegetables, legumes and complex, non-glutenous grains are the best foods to eat to restore gut health. Gluten irritates the GI tract and can cause b-12 and iron deficiency by itself, so therefore should be eliminated from the diet.
Old School Probiotics
Fermented vegetables help to re-colonize probiotics in the gut. Sauerkraut and dill pickles are my favorite probiotics. Besides adding pro-bacteria to the gut, sauerkraut is a chelator that helps detox heavy metals. Bonus! The pickles and kraut have to be non-pasturized to maintain the probiotics so look for them at farmers markets or health food stores in the refrigerated sections. Don't be deterred by the cloudy liquid. Those are the probiotics. Also, kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is available in health food stores and can be made at home. It is an acquired taste but I enjoy it as a treat once in a while. Kimchee and miso are fermented foods that Asians eat regularly and you may enjoy as well. Yogurt is an insufficient source of probiotics and all dairy and animal protein are linked to an increase in all diseases. Also, dairy contains sugars which feed bad bacteria.
Pull Out the Big Guns
If you have been diagnosed with B-12 deficiency, any GI disease, or you feel you need a supplement (you probably do if I described your diet in the second paragraph), look for one that is refrigerated in the health food store and has more that 6 billion bacteria of at least three different strains per dose.
See Brenda Watson's website for more info on gut health and probiotics. www.brendawatson.com
To help remove sugar and wheat from your diet, try these menu suggestions:
Brown rice cake with almond butter and a drizzle of honey
Oatmeal with walnuts, raisins, and honey
low-sugar granola with almond milk
The best breakfast is left overs from dinner
Salad with hummus and non-GMO corn chips
Veggie wrap in a brown rice tortilla
vegetable or bean soup and salad
Baked potato with avocado or olive oil and salad
raw nuts and seeds
hummus with veggie sticks
organic corn chips and salsa
Roasted mixed vegetables
Quinoa made with vegetable broth
Pinto beans with sauteed onion
baked sweet or regular potato
sauteed spinach with garlic and lemon
Or any combination of vegetables you like
All the best to you and your stomach!