Friday, March 1, 2013

Yogurt And Other Probiotics

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Did you know that it is estimated that 60-70% of your immune system is located in your gut? 
 
Do you get sick often or are you in almost perfect health 99% of the time? Many people it seems get sick at least once every couple months. Other people seem to never get sick. Do you get stomach aches, gas, bloating and other digestion problems frequently or never? Well, there are tons of reasons including stress levels, types of food intake, sleep quality and quantity, overall general health and fitness levels, and even some factors going back to childhood like the type of diet during developmental years. What I've noticed for myself personally is that the healthier that I eat as the years go on, the less frequently I get sick, and the less frequently I get digestion problems. As a matter of fact, my diet has become so healthy over the last couple years that I really never get sick at all anymore, and I also can't remember the last stomach ache I had (pretty much never have them anymore since I broke up with my last girlfriend!).

 Besides just keeping fit and healthy in general, I have a little bit of a secret that I believe helps a lot with my immunity as well as digestion, and hopefully this info will help you as well. One of my major secrets is the heavy use of both probiotics and prebiotics. This doesn't mean supplements. Although there are many quality pro-biotic supplements in the market. Rather, I try to get mine from regular natural foods. My interest started when I lived on a little island in the Caribbean. I was working at a gym and was experiencing digestive problems. To make a long story short I witnessed an employee pouring a gallon of chlorine bleach in the drinking water system and when I confronted her she explained this was a regular practice! Genius RIGHT! Realizing that all my intestinal bacteria was being destroyed on a daily basis I refrained from the water and over time my regular bad digestive symptoms disappeared.
Probiotics are basically live microorganisms (friendly bacteria and other good microorganisms) that can be ingested in certain fermented and raw foods.  Some probiotics you may have heard of are Bifidus, Lactobacilli, L. casei, etc. The average person has several TRILLION of these little buggers doing work at any given time inside your digestive system. Probiotic microorganisms actually like the acidic environment of your stomach and small intestine, and provide a HUGE amount of benefits to you.

Benefits that probiotics in you provide:

*Improve digestion
*Increase your immunity
*Help reduce yeast infections, urinary tract infections, etc.
*Reduce chances of diarrhea and/or constipation
*Improve lactose intolerance
*Increase absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients
*Increase production of white blood cells to help reduce inflammation, allergies, and other conditions.


Keep in mind that taking antibiotics, or showering in, and drinking bleach (Chlorinated water)  kills off your friendly bacteria living inside of you. So, you need to make sure to increase your intake of pro-biotics if you're ever asked to take antibiotics, or drink, or shower in bleach. Also if all the meat and eggs you eat isn't organic, chances are it contains heavy doses of antibiotics. Personally, I would never take antibiotics unless it was something life threatening, however I have to tell you, do whatever your doctor tells you to do. By the way, some doctors will prescribe antibiotics a lot of times even if you have a viral infection (which is pointless), and is only doing you harm by killing some of your good pro-biotic bacteria in your system and potentially allowing another bug to make you ill now that your defenses are reduced, the pro-biotics are your defenses. Make sure to confirm with your doctor, that you really do have a bacterial infection before allowing him/her to prescribe you an antibiotic. It's ok to challenge doctors they didn't all graduate at the top of their class, and you won't get struck by lightning either.  Now, what foods are good sources of these health giving friendly pro-biotics, you ask...

  • Yogurt - make sure that the yogurt label says that it has live cultures in it. Also, steer clear of yogurts that use artificial sweeteners or are loaded with sugar and corn syrup... Instead, your best bet is plain yogurt (grass fed and organic if possible), and then add your own fruit, nuts, and stevia to "flavor it up". 
  • Kefir - similar to yogurt, but more of a liquid form of fermented milk (can have 2-3 billion or more active friendly organisms per serving). This is my favorite I drink 1 8oz. bottle of blueberry a week.
  • Aged Cheese - blue cheese, hard aged cheeses, aged cheddar... all can contain up to 10 billion friendly organisms per serving. Another one of my favorites, I'm definitely a 'cheese head"
  • Kambucha - a type of fermented tea (this has a very strong taste, so consider mixing it with regular iced tea)
  • Sauerkraut - probably needs to be homemade as I believe most supermarket sauerkrauts are pasteurized, which kills the friendly probiotics.
So as you can see, trying to include a variety of these probiotic-rich foods into your daily diet can go a long way towards keeping you healthy, strengthen your immune system and prevent sickness, and digestion problems. The other thing I wanted to explain was PREBIOTICS. If probiotics are the actual organisms, prebiotics are types of foods that you can eat to help stimulate the growth of probiotics within your system. Soluble fiber is the main prebiotic that can help the probiotics flourish in your digestive system. Oatmeal, oat bran, inulin (not insulin, but inulin...a soluble fiber), and various fruits and vegetables all help to supply you with prebiotics. There you have it! Probiotics and prebiotics explained. So get on board,what are you waiting for? Good Luck..






                    Have A Great Weekend !!


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