The battle of good vs. evil is in our guts! Probiotics are the good little elves at work behind the scenes, creating wellness. However, the good can sometimes be overtaken by the evil. Our community balance of microorganisms (our microbiome) has an amazing ecosystem that functions, builds, regenerates OR tears down, inflames, and disrupts. The difference is the balance between good and evil. The P.O.W.E.R. of probiotics lies in this balance. When this community is overcome by evil, opportunistic, pathogenic bacterias like yeasts, parasites, H pylori, e coli then health begins to break down. But, once a healthy microbe balance is restored, the health of the entire body follows.
“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates
Did you know we have 10X more bacteria in our guts than we do cells in our bodies?
This microbe community of fungi, bacteria, parasitic and microbial collection comprises 99% of our DNA . Our “fingerprint” of sorts that holds the power to signal wellness or illness. The more we learn about this microbe community living within our guts (primarily large intestine), the more we realize our personal collection of microbes functions like an organ…regulating metabolic function, regenerative processes and immune responses. That is why the balance of these microbes is so vital to our health.
80+% of our immune system is in our guts! Overcome chronic infections like UTIs and sinus, skin issues like psoriasis, eczema, inflammatory conditions like IBS and many autoimmune states can begin to be overcome by rebalancing this microbial community. This balance impacts our immune responses of GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue and MALT (mucosal associated lymphatic tissue).
The power of probiotic microbes, the good bacterias in our guts that indirectly regulate metabolism helps keep our weight optimal. For example, these healthy bacterias convert 25% of inactive thyroid hormone to active forms to be used in our body. The #1 reason people aren’t able to lose weight is toxicity. Clearing toxins out of our bodies from food additives, medications, environmental contaminants, chemicals, excess hormones and many more… is our microbes’ job in our guts. Once the liver converts these harmful substances from fat soluble to water soluble, it’s our microbiome that helps to flush those out of our bodies – our detox machine.
When our guts are overwhelmed with bad bacteria (or what’s called a state of dysbiosis) we crave sugars. Bad bacteria feed on sugar. We all know the havoc and addictive nature overconsumption of process sugars creates. Sugar impacts our weight and leads to so many chronic health issues. Probiotics help to quiet and eliminate those sugar cravings.
The gut is often called our “second brain”. Mental and emotional health is to a large degree regulated by our microbiome in our guts. 85% of our serotonin for example is manufactured in our guts. Serotonin is our anti depression, anti anxiety, feel good neurotransmitter. When our gut bacterias are in balance and able to do their job we are synthesizing enough serotonin. Interestingly enough, melatonin (the hormone responsible for regulating sleep is made from serotonin) So, this microbe community may hold the key to restoring a better night’s sleep!
How do we rebalance our microbiome? Probiotic rich foods offer a transient form of good bacterias. Meaning, our body uses them and they are gone. These types of foods have been staples in many cultures and people groups for generations, but have been lost in our modern world. Foods like kimchi, lacto fermented vegetables like sauerkraut (not the vinegar based in the grocery store), but traditionally cultured with either sea salt and water or another live culture base like whey, kombuchas, dairy kefir and yogurts, cottage cheese and buttermilk. Even cultured butter or sour cream that has live active cultures are probiotic options! When a food is cultured or fermented its nutrients multiply! Enzymes are added and healthy bacterias are populated. Before refrigeration, fermentation and culturing of crops provided both a nutritional powerhouse and resourceful way to preserve the harvest.
Probiotic supplements have become increasingly popular. Just like food, check the ingredients! Many probiotics are filled with sugars, artificial colors, and other additives that negate any benefit from taking them! The advantage to taking a quality probiotic supplements is that those strains are native vs. transient. They often repopulate and recolonize our guts vs. being used and gone.
Here are 5 keys to look for in a probiotic supplement:
#1: Broad strain spectrum: ideally 10+ strains should be included
#2: High culture count: ideally 20 billion + live active cultures
#3: Professional grade: companies like Standard Process, Biotics, Orthomolecular, Designs for Health, Garden of Life, BioKult, Prescript Assist formulate probiotic supplements to bypass or resist breaking down from the stomach acid to ensure they reach your large intestine
#4: Contains prebiotics: Prebiotics are the food for probiotic bacterias.
#5: Take probiotics away from meals to get maximum benefit.
The P.O.W.E.R. of probiotics to impact our health goes far beyond what’s highlighted here, and research is only beginning to uncover the amazing design of our microbe community to build health. Do you have the P.O.W.E.R?
Lipski, Elizabeth. (2012). Digestive Wellness: 4th Edition, McGraw Hill. Wright, Jonathan MD, Lenard, Lane PhD. (2001). Why Stomach Acid is Good for You. M.Evans and Company, Inc.