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411 On Probiotics

May 30, 2015

Written by Amanda Gilles, RD. Did you know, the digestive system is home to more than 500 different types of good organisms!? Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in our gut, and are crucial in maintaining healthy GI function. We are just beginning to understand the enormous role gut flora plays in regards human health and disease. The gut flora promote: normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism, and bolsters immunity as it comprises more than 75% of our immune system. Our health begins in the gut! Out of balance gut flora has been linked to diseases ranging from weight gain and depression to autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s, inflammatory bowel disease and Type 1 diabetes. There is also something known as the gut-brain connection. When things start to get out of whack in our gut, our mood can be one of the first things to take a negative decline as 80% of our serotonin (one of our “feel good” hormones) is produced and stored in our gut! Start incorporating probiotic rich foods and/or supplements into your daily routine to keep your health in-tact and to feel your very best. What causes our gut to get out of balance? Unfortunately, several features of the modern lifestyle directly contribute to unhealthy gut flora:
  • Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs
  • Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
  • Diets low in fermentable fibers (prebiotics)
  • Dietary toxins like genetically modified organisms(GMOs) that can contribute to cause leaky gut
  • Food allergies or sensitivities
  • Chronic stress
  • Chronic infections
Leaky Gut: When the gut flora gets out of balance The main issue with leaky gut is it causes the pores in our intestines to widen and become misshapen. When this occurs, undigested food particles and toxins the can sneak through these widened pores and into our blood stream. Since these items are not supposed to be in the bloodstream, it can cause our immune system to go into attack mode! To give an example, imagine you have leaky gut and eat a carrot. When the carrot makes its way into your small intestine, undigested bits of carrot that should stay in the small intestine will slip through the large pores directly into your blood. Because these particles are not supposed to be in your bloodstream, the immune system identifies them as harmful intruders. This can obviously make us feel less than stellar. Overtime if this continues, we can develop food sensitivities, and nutritional deficiencies as foods are not adequately absorbed. Plus we might experience symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, brain fog, and headaches to name a few! So, how does leaky gut happen? We all have good and bad bacteria in our GI tract. When your gut flora is in balance the bad bacteria pose no threat. But when the bad bacteria starts to out-number the good, irritation and inflammation occur, which over time, can result in a leaky gut. To prevent leaky gut and other health concerns, be sure to incorporate probiotic and prebiotic food sources every day to your diet. Probiotic Rich Foods
  • Yogurt with live and active cultures
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Probiotic Supplements, like Klean Probiotic.
Dynamic Duo; Probiotics & Prebiotics Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. They are crucial in helping our good bacteria flourish, promoting healthy GI function. Prebiotics are found in foods such as: whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey, and artichokes. Some of my favorite ways to kick-start my day with probiotics and prebiotics include: Bircher Muesli, Greek yogurt Parfait, and overnight oats! They all incorporate yogurt, whole grains, honey, and fresh fruit to keep me full and satisfied, plus these ingredients promote healthy gut flora!