Probiotics 101

This post is inspired by our longtime client Elinore Evans. Elinore and Lisa were chatting recently about the success they’ve had with incorporating a probiotics regimen into their self-care routines; we’d like to share the love with the rest of the Inspiral community!

WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?

90% of the cells in the human body are microbes; only 10% can truly be considered “human cells.” Microorganisms in the body outnumber human cells by 10 to 1 and help us to break down food, take in nutrients, and prevent the buildup of illness-causing bacteria. Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria and yeasts that are thought to have health benefits. Probiotics have nicknames such as “healthy bacteria” and “good bugs” because they help our bodies to produce vitamins, fight disease and digest food. Fun fact: the word probiotics actually translates to “for life”!

ORIGINS OF PROBIOTICS

Russian biologist and Nobel laureate Elie Metchnikoff is considered the “father of probiotics.” In the early 1900s, Metchnikoff examined how we might repopulate the human gut with healthy rather than harmful bacteria to promote healthier living.

HOW DO PROBIOTICS WORK?

After probiotics are consumed, they travel to our intestines and colonize. Some will adhere to the lining of the intestine where they take real estate and fuel away from bad bacteria. It is believed that probiotics benefit us by synthesizing minerals in order to produce the vitamins and enzymes we need to keep our intestines and immune systems healthy. Different bacterial strains secrete different proteins that aid in fighting infection and inflammation. The two most common probiotic strains are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

WHY ARE PROBIOTICS IMPORTANT?

Unfortunately, modern everyday life can deplete our populations of healthy microorganisms and contribute to an imbalance; stress, processed foods, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and potentially GMOs are some of these factors. A strong gut microbiome full of beneficial bugs can balance out “unhealthy bacteria” which may not only help digestion, but also positively affect our immune systems, cognitive functioning and moods.  More research is needed, but there is encouraging evidence out there that suggests probiotics may help:

·         Prevent or reduce the severity of colds/flu

·         Treat diarrhea, especially if related to certain antibiotic treatments

·         Prevent and treat yeast infections and UTIs

·         Treat irritable bowel syndrome

·         Increase efficacy of treatments for certain intestinal infections

HOW CAN I INCORPORATE PROBIOTICS INTO MY SELF-CARE PRACTICE?

·         Try adding the following foods to your regular diet:

o   Yogurt (make sure the label says “live and active cultures”)

o   Sauerkraut and Kimchi

o   Miso Soup

o   Soft cheeses

o   Kefir

o   Sourdough bread

o   Buttermilk and milk fortified with probiotics

o   Sour pickles (with natural fermentation – i.e., no vinegar added)

o   Tempeh

·         And/or add daily supplements (those that require refrigeration are best – you can usually find these in a cooler at natural groceries and health stores)

SOME TIPS FROM ELINORE EVANS:

4 STEPS TO ESTABLISHING A HEALTHY GUT:

“There are four stages for optimal gut health.

1.       Create the best environment for good microbes to flourish using prebiotics such as LifeSpa’s Slippery Elm Prebiotic formula.

2.       Introduce specific probiotics that are known to survive the digestive tract and colonize the gut (rather the usual transient probiotics), such as Bifidobacterium Lactis HN019.

3.       Boost the colonizing microbes to achieve microbial diversity.

4.       Eat a seasonally based health diet that includes fermented foods.

The first three steps typically take three and a half months, during which time it is very important to maintain proper elimination.”

PREBIOTICS:

Since making prebiotic tea requires steeping loose herbs and then straining them, I prefer to steep them in a small Pyrex measuring cup using a flexible silicone lid (here's what she uses) to retain the heat. Then pouring the steeped tea into a cup using a strainer is easy.”

SUGAR:

Eating sugar will feed the unhealthy bacteria so refrain as much as possible during this process. If you love chocolate eat a limited amount of the super dark variety.”

ANTIBIOTICS:

If you have to take antibiotics then you will need to start this whole process again. Your gut health will be helped by taking probiotics concurrently if you take them between antibiotic doses rather than at the same time.”

Elinore's probiotics: LifeSpa (click to see more!) 

Elinore's probiotics: LifeSpa (click to see more!) 

Thanks again to Elinore for the wisdom and inspiration! If you have any questions or reactions about this blog, feel free to contact Sarah Kijinski at sfk@inspiralmotion.com. To learn more about LifeSpa probiotics - Elinore's favorite - click on the image above. Be well!