6 Ways to Get Started With Probiotics
Probiotic is latin derived meaning "for life." It refers to the microorganisms that are found in fermented foods such as beer, yogurt, milk keifer, water keifer, kombucha, cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc that have nutritional and therapeutic properties. These microorganisms or microbes help our gut flora increase intestinal, immune and cognitive function. Did you know that there are 100 trillion bacteria, about three pounds, in your intestinal tract?
Not all of the 100 trillion microbes are "good," there are some that we consider "bad" that can cause illnesses. Any imbalance of normal bacterial flora is referred to as dysbacteriosis. Eating sugar, being exposed to chemicals, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet and stress can upset the flora balance.
Here are some of the most common signs that may affect you:
Excess intestinal gas
Too little or no intestinal gas
Chronic bad breath
Chronic yeast infection or UTIs
Brain fog or concentration/focus issues
So, what should we do about this imbalance?
1. Reduce sugar intake - sugar feeds the bad bacteria. Please read your yogurt ingredients and pick a brand that does not have added sugar to it. It defeats the purpose of trying to have a probiotic food if you are getting high amounts of sugar to feed the bad bacteria!
2. Supplement your intestinal bacteria with probiotics, whether through a nutritional supplement or fermented foods.
3. If you are taking antibiotics take a nutritional probiotic supplement to support and reestablish the good bacteria in your intestines. Probiotics can help reduce the side-effects of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the good with the bad!! Also do not take the probiotic at the same time when you take the antibiotic. At least have several hours in between dosages.
6 Types of Probiotic Foods/Products:
1. Nutritional Probiotics - We carry Ortho Molecular Products probiotics at our clinic and like their quality and effectiveness.
They are shelf-stable that do not need to be refrigerated and use the BioShield technology to ensure consistent and reliable results. By using advanced encapsulation technology the microograminsms are preserved and released in the intestines for maximum effectiveness. They add Saccharomyces boulardii in their formulas which helps restore the microflora and enhance organism function. Seven probiotic strains are used that have the best ability to withstand the harsh environment of the GI tract and adhere to the intestinal wall.
2. Kombucha - Fun to do on your own and kids enjoy helping while watching it grow!
Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a kombucha started called a mushroom, SCOBY, etc. SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. It contains many vitamin Bs, antioxidants and probiotics strains. It also contains a small amount of alcohol (only .3%-.5%), lactic acids and some substances that discourage bacteria.
This fermented drink is effervescent and can flavor it to your taste. Many people describe the taste as sweet and acidic like soda with a slight vinegar taste. I add blueberries and ginger to my kombucha during the second fermentation process to make it delicious.
3. Water Keifer - one of my favorites to ferment! It is easy and tastes so good. Water keifer grains are bacteria and yeast coexisting together in a symbiotic relationship. The grains actually do not contain any really "grains" from wheat and are gluten/grain free. Water keifer contains fewer strains of bacteria than milk keifer, however, it has more than yogurt.
I enjoy the water keifer taste over the kombucha. Water keifer has a slight apple juice taste with fizziness. You can do a second fermentation stage to add fruits and herbs make the flavor pop.
The color of the water mixture is darker because I was using raw sugar. You can use several different sugar types.
Water keifer grains doing their thing while releasing air and floating!!
4. Milk Keifer - Fermented beverage produced with milk keifer grains. It has more probiotic bacteria than yogurt and helps reestablish the good bacteria in the intestines, whereas yogurt bacteria feed the good bacteria already in the intestines and are called transient bacteria.
5. Yogurt - best to make yourself or purchase a brand with no added sugar or flavors.
6. Vegetable Fermentation like sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. Vegetable fermentation, or lacto-fermentation is easy and a delicious way to make condiments.
If I can make fermented beverages and foods, then you can too! Don't be scared, it is a fun experiment that the family can enjoy too!!