This is the time of year when we are exposed to more germs that can bring on illness if our immune system is not functioning at its best. One thing you can do is use a good probiotic to boost healthy bacteria to help combat the nasty little bugs that come your way.
Most of you have heard that probiotics are a beneficial supplement and can improve digestion but did you realize that probiotics can also help to improve your mood, body composition, nutrient levels, skin, teeth, vaginal health, blood sugar regulation and more?
When I ask new clients if they are taking a probiotic, they often answer that they are eating yogurt. That's not enough, particularly if it's a highly processed yogurt, filled with sugar. Sugar feeds the bad bacteria and there are no live cultures after high heat processing. Here are some things you can do to help build a healthy level of bacteria in your GI tract.
• Choose a good kefir, kombucha, Kim chi, sauerkraut or other fermented food.
• Add in a professional-grade probiotic with live bacteria strains and change it up to ensure you are getting a variety of strains. Studies show more health benefits from a variety of probiotic strains in the GI tract.
• Eat prebiotic foods that feed the gut bacteria so that the good bacteria can thrive in your GI tract. There's no point in spending money on a probiotic if you don't give it what it needs to survive. Some good prebiotic foods: raw jicama, raw or cooked onions, raw asparagus, raw Jerusalem artichoke, raw leeks, raw garlic, green bananas,
• Minimize refined sugar intake and increase fiber intake in the form of vegetables. Any undigested fiber also works as a prebiotic.
• Get dirty! We are more sterile than our ancestors and they believe this has had a negative impact on our gut bacteria levels.
• Minimize antibiotic and NSAID use (ibuprofen, tylenol, etc.).
Lastly, more is not always better. I have had clients come to me taking multiple doses of probiotics each day only to feel gassy and bloated. If you are getting gassy and bloated from a probiotic supplement, that's an indication that something else is going on in the GI tract. We need to investigate further and address those issues first. Also, you don't need to take a probiotic every day if your GI tract is healthy and functioning well. That said, the following can negatively affect the gut microbiome: alcohol intake, stress, sleep deprivation, refined sugar and excessive exercise so be mindful if you are exposed to these things on a regular basis.
Remember you are only as strong as the good bugs inside you!