When you have problems with your digestive health, you might have heard the word
‘probiotics’ being thrown around in relation to restoring healthy gut flora. Or maybe you have been on a course of antibiotics
and heard your friends and family, say, “Don’t forget to take probiotics”. But what are
probiotics and why are they so important as potential natural remedies for gut health? In this in-depth article, you will learn many tips on how to restore healthy gut flora with probiotics.
How probiotics work
- Probiotics are yeasts and live bacteria that are very good for you, particularly
for restoring healthy gut flora. In your digestive system, you get good bacteria and bad bacteria and
probiotics are the good, helpful bacteria, which may help support a healthy gut. You
will find probiotics in foods and supplements. Every time you eat organic
yogurt, you are eating some probiotics. If you have taken antibiotics,
you might have heard your doctor suggest you take yogurt.
- Did you know that probiotics have actually been in our systems from the day we
were born? When a brand new baby is being delivered, it is exposed to its
mother’s bacteria in the birth canal. Already this event has started a whole chain
of events in the baby’s gastrointestinal tract, and already the baby’s
gastrointestinal tract is starting to produce good bacteria.
- Years ago, when processed foods and fast food joints weren’t so popular, our diets
had plenty of probiotics in them. The soil too was clean, fresh, and healthy. The
Nobel Prize winner back in the day, the Russian Elie Metchnikoff claimed that a
person’s health could be enhanced and any senility delayed by being able to
manipulate the intestinal microbiomes with the friendly bacteria that is found in
yogurt. But now with modern agricultural and refrigeration methods, a lot of our
foods have no probiotics in them at all. The sad thing is that most of the foods
eaten today contain some very dangerous antibiotics in them that may kill off what
good bacteria you have in your body.
- A lot of health issues today, such as inflammation, chronic fatigue, psoriasis,
thyroid imbalances, joint pains, and autism may have their connections with the way
our gut works. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases claim that there are between 60-70 million American people who suffer
from digestive diseases. These medical problems cost the US over $100 billion
every year. Staggering statistics for sure. Not all realize that poor gut health has
been affecting even more numbers than what statistics will say. Digestive health
even affects the physiological system of your body. This is why learning how to restore healthy gut flora is so important.
- Researchers today are studying probiotics for restoring healthy gut flora all the time to figure out their benefits
in the body and how they really work. The mix of bacteria in your body is unique
to you, just like your fingerprint. Your bowel has trillions of microorganisms in it,
from over 500 different species. Research indicates that certain strains of
probiotics may be able to:
o aid in digestion
o ease vaginal infections
o prevent diarrhea
o prevent autoimmune diseases
o stave off urinary infections
o soothe skin ailments
- Remember though that not everyone will respond in the same way using the
same probiotics for restoring healthy gut flora. Probiotics most commonly used come from two main types:
o Bifidobacteria: Commonly found in supplements and foods.
o Lactobacillus: Produces lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the sugar in
milk, potentially increasing mineral absorption into the body. There are 6 common
strains of popular probiotics – look out for these names on supplements and food
o B. animalis: May help to aid digestion and to boost the immune system.
o B. breve: May fight off bad infections and could help the body to absorb nutrients,
breaking down fibers for easy digestion.
o B. lactis: Found in raw milk.
o B. longum: like an antioxidant, helping to break down carbohydrates.
o L. acidophilus: Aids in digestion and may fight off vaginal bacteria.
o L. reuteri: May be able to decrease oral bacteria that cause tooth decay. Also may help
the digestive system.
- If you are not seriously ill or have a compromised immune system, then taking
probiotics may be fine for restoring healthy gut flora. Just ask your pharmacist or doctor about the right doses.
- If you are interested in starting the journey of restoring healthy gut flora, you might
come across bumps in your road to achieve that. It might be because your
microbiome is out of balance from the modern lifestyle that you have been used
to, in the form of processed foods, insufficient exercise and so forth. Maybe
you’ve been on antibiotics lately or eaten many of the modern foods that you
think are healthy, but are in fact also filled with antibiotics. Maybe you have been
under excessive stress. It could also just be the aging process that is lowering the
probiotics in your gut. When you start restoring gut flora after antibiotics with probiotics, your body may start detoxing.
What should one do when experiencing temporary detoxifying effects?
If you do struggle with detoxification effects, don’t let it deter or discourage you. Don’t
forget that it’s only a temporary thing, but in any case, there are ways to help your
body adjust to taking probiotics so that you may get the full benefits:
- Drink water: When you drink plenty of water, you really may be doing your body
a favor because the water may cleanse your body of the toxins and keeps you
hydrated. Think about adding some lemon to your water to give it a boost in
alkaline to potentially even further remove toxins.
- Consider lowering your dosage of probiotics: If you feel your temporary detox
effects are something you can’t tolerate, think about giving your body a bit of a
break to balance itself before continuing – at a lower dosage. Everyone is
different and maybe lowering your dose and working up to the normal dose again
will make it easier for you to move into the probiotic regimen.
- Exercise: Our bodies are meant to be active and moving. Living a
sedentary lifestyle may result in the body not functioning at its best, especially
when it comes to detoxifying. One of our detoxifying systems, the lymphatic
system, needs movement from the body for the lymph fluids to transport toxins
and waste from body cells.
Depending on your gut health, replacing bad bacteria in your body with good
bacteria may give the body a jolt. Help your body through this process by
giving it what it needs: water, exercise, and sleep. Once your good bacteria has
settled down in your gut and takes over the bad bacteria, you may feel your
health rising to new heights!
Let the healthy gut transitional process begin
There are excellent probiotic supplements on the market which are packed with
healthy and live bacteria that may help solve the problem of how to restore healthy gut flora to your system. When you begin offering your body high-quality probiotic formulas, the good bacteria gets to work restoring healthy gut flora, killing off the bad bacteria. The bad
bacteria, as it gets destroyed, will release toxins which can build up faster in your gut
than your body is able to expel them. Your body may react by producing side effects,
albeit temporary, such as bloating, diarrhea, gas, aching limbs and even breakouts
of your skin.
In medical terms, this might be called the Jarisch-Herxheimer or healing-crisis reaction. It is the probiotics working in your system, working at repairing and restoring healthy gut flora in your gut microbiome – potentially building a stronger foundation for the rest of your body. It might take your body some time to get used to this new type of activity in your body, so you might even notice a difference in the way you feel. This could be positive or negative – and will last until your system adjusts to the change. In the future though, if you decide to increase your dosage of probiotics (you should contact a health professional first), you could return to this temporary acclimatization period again. After you figure out how to restore healthy gut flora with probiotics and your microbiome is balanced, the good bacteria will work to get the bad bacteria under control. The friendly flora in your gut will continue to work hard at expelling harmful toxins lurking around in your gut.
The detoxifying effects of probiotics
When your microbes are healthy, they are powerful and excellent at keeping your gut
detoxified. What are the potentially wonderful detoxification effects?
- Reduction in heavy metals: There are certain strains of bacteria that may have the
ability to detoxify and bind heavy metals that accumulate in your body. These can
be mercury, lead, arsenic, and others.
- Breaking down of pesticides: Research shows that probiotics might degrade any
pesticides that are commonly used in our environment, for example, what is used
to maintain turf and golf courses, and those that are found on crops such as
cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts, and others.
- Probiotics may help excrete BPA or Bisphenol A: This is an industrial chemical found in
plastic water bottles and resins which leak onto our drinks and foods, potentially causing
medical problems. Taking probiotics may help to reduce the absorption of this
unhealthy plastic and to potentially aid in it being excreted so that it doesn’t build up in your
body, which may affect your health negatively if allowed to do so.
Top probiotic killers
Your lifestyle and dietary habits play a big part in the good or bad quality of your gut
bacteria. If you were to take probiotic supplements on a daily basis, yet fail to rid
yourself of the things that are probiotic killers, then you may still be depriving your
body of the benefits of probiotics.
The bacteria in your microbiome is complete and affected by a lot of things. If you
can bring all these things into alignment, you may stand a better chance of having a
healthy gut. Let’s look at some things that may destroy good bacteria:
- Sugar, a top killer
- Overusing antibiotics from doctors
- Genetically modified foods
- Other medications
- Alcohol (excluding red wine)
- Insufficient exercise
- Poor sleeping habits
Potential Probiotic Benefits
The ones listed below are the ones that have been thoroughly researched:
1. Digestive health
Of course, a major potential benefit of probiotics is good digestive health. When you decide to
opt for probiotics as a treatment for the possible prevention of gastrointestinal disease, the
probiotic strain and the type of disease are important factors to think about. Eating
foods that have plenty of good bacteria in them and also using probiotic supplements
might help to protect you from ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s
disease, and others. You may notice improvements in the above and possibly also ulcerative
colitis , diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.
2. May help decrease antibiotic resistance
WHO, (World Health Organization) considers antibiotic resistance to be one of the
largest threats in the world when it comes to global food health, food security and its
development. Bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics when there is an overuse of
antibiotics prescribed by a doctor as well as the improper use of antibiotics. When you
use probiotics, you may be able to rebuild gut bacteria that is in poor health. Probiotic
supplements and the right foods may increase antibiotic effectiveness and might prevent the
bacteria from becoming resistant. Consult with your doctor on what would be the best probiotics to take after antibiotics.
3. Mental Illness may be improved
Taking probiotics may result in a lessening of depressive symptoms according to a 2016
review and they also seem to possibly reduce the number of patients having to be re-hospitalized
again suffering from manic depression. It has been suggested that probiotics might help with some symptoms of autism. Patients with autism are known to suffer from digestive issues and good gut bacteria may have the ability to benefit the abnormal behavior that comes with autism as well. There have even been other studies which show that certain probiotics might have the ability to reduce particular symptoms of schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis in patients. But this is still in the
very early stages and more research is required.
4. May boost immunity and could decrease inflammation
When it comes to immunity, both prebiotics and probiotics are ongoing topics of
research. But research has already proven that probiotics have the potential for
preventing many immunity-related diseases caused by inflammation being in the
body, particularly being of possible benefit to older people’s gut health and quality of life.
Today, the use of probiotics to treat inflammation associated with HIV patients is
being tested, but no definitive conclusions have been drawn.
5. May help maintain healthy skin
Children might benefit from taking probiotics as a potential preventative for what is
known as pediatric atopic dermatitis as well as infant eczema.
More possible benefits of taking probiotics
- May lower blood pressure
- May help with diabetes treatment
- May improve dental health
- May help with urinary tract infection
- May help with rheumatoid arthritis
- May help with kidney stones
- May help you lose weight
How do I get more probiotics in my system?
Eat more sour foods. Good ones are apple cider vinegar, fermented vegetables such
as kimchi, sauerkraut, and drinking kvass.
Consuming more foods rich in probiotics such as kefir, kombucha, goat milk, and
yogurt. A good idea is to add kefir to your morning smoothie.
Feeding the probiotics already in your system. Remember that probiotics are
organisms that are alive in your body and to be healthy they need excellent food.
You need high-quality fiber like flax seed and chia seeds which are also great in your
smoothies. Eat plenty of organic fruit, sweet potatoes, and other veggies.
Take an excellent probiotic supplement. This is a great way of restoring healthy gut flora.
How to restore healthy gut flora with top probiotic foods
1. Kefir, similar to yogurt, created from the fermentation of milk. Coconut kefir is also delicious.
2. Sauerkraut, which is made from fermented vegetables, particularly cabbage. High
in organic acids, which give foods their sour taste and which may support the growth of
the good bacteria.
3. Kimchi, which is like sauerkraut, but it is actually cultured vegetables from Korea.
Kimchi is made from cabbage, scallions, radish, red pepper paste, ginger, garlic,
sugar, fish sauce, some kelp powder, and salted shrimp, fermented for about 14
5. Natto, a Japanese dish, consisting of fermented soybeans, is potentially able to really boost
your immune system. It also has vitamin B12 in it which is often lacking in vegan
diets. An excellent supply of plant-based proteins – 31 grams of protein in a cup.
6. Yogurt, probably the most popular probiotic foods, made from milk supplied from
goats, sheep or cows. Milk must come from grass-fed animals. When you buy your
yogurt, make sure it’s made from raw milk, that the animals have been grass fed and
that the yogurt is organic. Then you are OK. Remember, pasteurized milk does not
7. Kvass, a fermented beverage coming from Eastern Europe, originating from
ancient times. It consists of the natural fermentation of organic bread, often flavored
with fruit, berries or raisins.
8. Miso, a Japanese traditional medicine, used commonly for macrobiotic cooking,
potentially regulating the digestive system. Miso dates back in time to 2500 years.
Many Japanese won’t start their day without a bowl of warm miso soup. It’s made
from fermented soybeans. Today, it’s famous throughout the world and very easy to
9. Kombucha, one of the ancients, around for about 2000 years – varieties of
slightly effervescent and fermented sweetened black or green tea drinks. Apart from
being potentially excellent for restoring healthy gut flora, it may be excellent for detoxing the liver as well.
Probiotics have been receiving a lot of attention in this 21st century from all kinds of
research groups, consumers, and manufacturers. It’s no wonder, seeing as the
Romans and Greeks ate cheese and fermented products, and fermentation of dairy
products come from such ancient techniques in the art of food preservation.
If your digestive health is in good order, it’s not necessary, maybe not even prudent,
to start taking probiotics. If you are eager to take them though, do so in a rational
way. If you take them for a month or so and you notice that they are not making you
feel any noticeably better, it’s probably not worth your while spending all your
earnings on what are often misunderstood bugs. Make sure to contact a health professional before making any definite decisions. For those with an unhealthy gut, you won’t be sorry you decided to go looking after the hungry hard working soldiers of your digestive tract so they can win the war against
the bad guys that cause your gut to be sick and out of sorts. It’s a win-win.