You’ve probably seen articles in the press about probiotics, but what’s all the fuss about, really?
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria that help support internal digestive and immune system health when we consume them.
Common Sources Of Probiotics
The most common sources of probiotics are fermented dairy products such as yogurts, cottage cheese and some aged, fermented cheeses (parmesan, Swiss, cheddar, Gouda, etc). They also occur in fermented products such as Kim Chee, kefir, kombucha, miso, sourdough bread, and some juices.
Probiotics are also available as supplements – the best ones are usually refrigerated to extend the life of the bacteria. There are many different strains of bacteria available as probiotic supplements, and scientists are attempting to isolate and breed new strains targeted at specific health challenges such as obesity, diabetes, allergies and even mental illness.
Why Should I Consume Daily Probiotics?
Our bodies contain over 100 trillion live bacteria, and many of them perform essential services that help keep us healthy. Unfortunately, there are also some “bad guys” in our body’s bacterial community, and our modern diets tend to feed them too well. Overconsumption of sugar tends to feed “bad” bacteria and push the colonies in our body out of balance. This “gastrointestinal dysbiosis”can contribute to obesity, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), metabolic syndrome, diabetes, food allergies and even cardiovascular disease.
Probiotics Can Help With Weight Loss
When you eat probiotic foods or consume supplements, you’re sending reinforcements in to help the “good” bacteria in your body take back control. This can result in a reduced waistline, better digestion, fewer aches and pains, and generally better health. In fact, research has shown that just taking a probiotic capsule daily can make a statistically significant difference in reducing your waist circumference.
Probiotic Consumption Helps With Arthritis and High Cholesterol
Probiotics also reduce inflammation, so if you suffer from inflammatory disease such as arthritis, they can be helpful. Consuming multiple strains of probiotics has been shown to help reduce cholesterol – the Lactobacillus acidophilus strain was particularly useful for reducing LDL cholesterol.
More Benefits Of Daily Probiotic Consumption
If weight loss, less joint pain, and lower cholesterol weren’t enough, probiotic consumption has even been shown to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in many countries (#3 here in Hong Kong).
What Should I Do Next?
- Consider dropping sugars and refined grains from your diet. Cut your processed food consumption as much as possible, and choose organic when you can.
- Replace unhealthy foods with nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean protein sources.
- Add a serving of probiotic-rich yogurt, cottage cheese, or fermented vegetables daily… or even with every meal. Your holistic doctor can recommend specific strains of supplemental probiotics for health conditions that may be troubling you.
- Get tested for food allergies. A food allergy can really mess up your gut health.
- Practice stress reduction – meditation, yoga, stretching, time in nature… and get help when stress gets out of control. NLP and hypnosis can be particularly effective, and they’re available in our integrative practice here in Hong Kong.
Giving your body extra probiotics and improving your gut health can be a powerful way of improving your overall health.