Probiotics are such an in-depth topic, I think it highly unlikely that I’ll be able to cover everything in just one article, so this will likely be the first of many in a series discussing probiotics.
Probiotics 101: Understanding the Basics of Good Bacteria
To understand your digestive system better, we’ll examine your small and large intestine. Microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast, protozoa, worms, and other unknown organisms populate your gastrointestinal tract. Don’t panic and try to eliminate them all because most of them are beneficial, protective, and essential for good health. Probiotics have a significant impact on health and can reduce depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems, as proven by countless studies with strong evidence. The first aspect of probiotics’ effect on health may seem counterintuitive, but understanding the mechanisms behind it makes it clearer.
Probiotics and the human microbiome affect each person differently, making it difficult to agree on what is beneficial and for what purpose. For instance, someone may feel that the X strain of probiotics improves their energy and reduces depression, while the Y strain makes them feel suicidal. Therefore, trying different probiotics is the best way to figure out what works for you based on your experience.
Probiotics aid digestion by providing good bugs in your gut to digest your food. This resource explains how probiotics can reduce lactose intolerance, while this one shows how the compounds created by probiotics are enzymes that optimize the digestive process. Wholefood forms of probiotics create digestive enzymes and other compounds like lactic acid before you eat them, pre-digesting your food and helping you get the most out of what you eat.
Your microbiome significantly affects your bowel health. Experts discuss how microbiota impacts gastrointestinal diseases such as IBS and IBD. However, different strains and species have varying effects on hosts, making it hard to agree on safe and effective probiotic treatment. Probiotics are vital for the interaction between food and absorbing cells, and for gastrointestinal mucosal membrane regeneration and integrity. This membrane defends you from infections and digestive juices.
Natural Sources of Probiotics: Foods and Supplements for a Healthy Gut
Therapeutic probiotic powders and capsules are potent and should be consumed with care. Traditionally prepared fermented foods contain probiotics, including milk products like yogurt, kefir, cheese, and butter, as well as meat products like chorizo and salami, and vegetables like sauerkraut, kimchi, and tempeh. Excess heat destroys probiotics, so to benefit from them, avoid exposing them to high temperatures.
When you introduce new microbes to your body, the pathogenic ones fight for resources and territory. During this battle, they release chemicals that could cause illness. If your body can’t handle these toxins, you might experience symptoms like the flu, headaches, muscle pains, and digestive issues. These symptoms could last for up to a week. However, you can reduce their severity by ensuring you get enough nutrients and boosting your body’s ability to detoxify itself. Fasting can also help. If you have chronic illnesses, even a small amount of live yogurt could overwhelm your detoxification pathways. To slowly build up your tolerance, you can gradually increase your dosage over months or even years. It took me over two years to reach my desired probiotic intake.
A phrase I’m fond of quoting is “you can try and tell yourself you’re okay, but if the chemicals in your body are telling you that you aren’t okay, you aren’t going to feel okay“. If your microbiome isn’t producing the chemicals you need to feel happiness, how can you expect to feel happy? I hope the serotonin is flowing abundantly in your brain and that helps you to have a lovely day, thank you for reading.
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