There are two sides to the biotic coin – there are antibiotics and then there are probiotics and if you have to take an antibiotic for any reason, then you need a probiotic to counteract the effects of the antibiotic. We all need probiotics or the “friendly bacteria” which when ingested acts to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and to help fight illness and disease so that we are less likely to need anti-biotics in the future!
“Probiotic” means “for life”
A healthy lower intestine should contain at least 85% friendly bacteria to prevent the over colonization of disease-causing micro-organisms like E. coli and salmonella. So that means a ratio of 85% friendly bacteria to 15% unfriendly bacteria for optimum good health.
Unfortunately, many people have this percentage reversed but fortunately, probiotics are available in the form of dietary supplements and foods.
The benefits of taking probiotics in your food or as supplements are to
- Treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
- Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Treat candida overgrowth
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Reduce bladder cancer recurrence and decrease the risk of certain other cancers
- Speed up treatment of certain intestinal infections
- Prevent and treat eczema and other allergies in children
- Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu
- Prevent or reduce the incidence of rhinitis and/or hayfever
- Decrease dental-carries-causing microbes in the mouth
- Keep healthy people staying healthy
The growth of probiotics
Many probiotic foods have been used for centuries in different cultures in the form of fermented foods and cultured milk products but recently American interest in probiotics has been growing with the country's spending, on probiotoc supplements, tripling in just 10 years. This could be as a reaction to the obsession with anti bacterial cleaning products and hand sanitizers as well as food safety regulations where food is sterilized and pasteurized. In the quest to get rid of bad bacteria, the good can disappear too. Everything may be a lot cleaner and less disease ridden but not necessarily a lot healthier.
When shopping for food, look out for those labeled as 'health-promoting' that contain good bacteria. These include yogurt, some cheeses and sauerkraut. But for a complete list of the best probiotic foods to add to your diet, here are 10 from an article
from Dr Edward Group.
The best probiotic foods to use
1. One of these is live-cultured yogurt, especially when handmade from goat's milk. Goat’s milk and cheese are particularly high in probiotics like thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Be aware that not all yogurts are made equally as many popular brands are filled with HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), artificial sweeteners and flavors.
2. Similar to yogurt, kefir is a fermented dairy product with a unique combination of goat milk and fermented grains. High in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, kefir is also rich in antioxidants and available from your local health food shop but check the ingredients as the quality can vary. You can even make your own kefir.
3. Made from fermented cabbage (as well as other vegetables), sauerkraut is not only extremely rich in healthy live cultures, vitamins B, A, E and C, but also assists in reducing allergy symptoms.
4. Delicious, high-quality dark chocolate has 4 times the amount of probiotics as many forms of dairy. If eaten in moderation, chocolate has many other health benefits too.
5. There are super-food ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chorella, and blue-green algae, collectively known as microalgae, that have been shown to increase the levels of both lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in the digestive tract, as well as offering the most amount of energetic return, per ounce, for the human system.
6. Miso is one the mainstays of Japanese traditional medicine, and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon of miso to hot water will make an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup. Beyond its important live cultures, miso is extremely nutrient-dense and is believed to help neutralize the effects of environmental pollution while alkalinizing the body and stopping the effects of carcinogens in the system.
7. lacto-fermented pickles such as the common green pickle.
8. As a great substitute for meat or tofu, tempeh is a fermented, probiotic-rich grain made from soybeans. A great source of vitamin B12, this vegetarian food can be sautéed, baked or eaten crumbled on salads. If prepared correctly, tempeh is also very low in salt, which makes it an ideal choice for those on a low-sodium diet.
9. This Asian form of pickled sauerkraut, known as kimchi, is an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage, served with most meals in Korea. In addition to its beneficial bacteria, Kimchi is also a great source of beta-carotene, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, B1 & B2.
10. Kombucha Tea is a form of fermented tea high in healthy gut bacteria that has been used as a probiotic drink for centuries. The benefits include helping to increase your energy, enhancing your well being and even leading to weight loss. It is not suitable for those with a candida overgrowth.
Remember to buy organic or raw, unpasturized probiotics whenever you can.