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probiotics2When you hear television commercials boasting that probiotics are the new way to “keep you regular,” and boost immunity, this is actually far from the truth. Probiotics are far from new. In fact, our primal ancestors were in the habit of regularly consuming probiotics through drinking water that housed transient soil-bacteria present in well waters and streams, as well as through the regular consumption of fermented foods. Since there was no refrigeration, they had to preserve many foods by fermentation and culturing processes. This produces billions of beneficial bacteria that are absolutely essential to our health. While refrigerators are a wonderful modern day necessity, the need for them, in combination with the advent of processed, packaged, “shelf-stable” foods, has shifted the population away from traditional methods of preparing and consuming foods. The fact that people no longer get their water from wells and streams anymore has also shifted the dynamic of microbes with which we come into contact. These factors have led to a dramatic decrease in the consumption of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria. In addition, the consumption of processed, packaged, and sugar and chemical laden foods in place of traditionally prepared foods, coupled with the overuse of antibiotics and prescription drugs, have been intrinsic factors in the general deterioration of our guts’ integrity. It is no wonder that in recent years there has been a steady surge of autoimmune conditions, learning disabilities, mood disorders, depression, and cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.

So You May Be Asking, WHY Do We NEED Probiotics?

Probiotics are the resident bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms in the human gut. They are absolutely necessary for your body to process and digest food, keep pathogenic microbes in check, and filter out toxins. The term probiotics means “for life,” and without them, we certainly could not live. There are more species of microorganisms in the human digestive tract than there are DNA cells in our body. Without their presence, the whole digestive system gets thrown out of balance, and when this happens, the rest of our body becomes out of balance as well. Science is only just beginning to discover the depth of their influence in regulating our entire body’s homeostasis. People who suffer from digestive disturbances like IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac’s disease have been found to lack certain strains of beneficial microbes within the gut. Similarly, people with autoimmune disorders, those with learning disabilities, autism, or personality or mood disorders have also been found to consistently have compromised guts.

probiotics-for-bvEven in healthy people who appear to have no serious health conditions, probiotics are an important part of living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Probiotics need to be consumed on a regular basis, especially in the cases of degenerative diseases. Probiotics are found naturally in yogurt and kefir, as well as any fermented vegetables or beverages like kombucha. Probiotics are especially helpful in treating digestive disturbances like diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, pathogenic overgrowth like candida albicans (or yeast infections) such as vaginal yeast infections and athlete’s foot, and urinary tract infections. Probiotics also stimulate and strengthen the immune system, making them useful in treating even the common cold, flu, viral or bacterial infections, and skin conditions such as rashes and eczema.

Most healthy adults can take probiotics in the form of food or supplements with little to no side effects. However, some individuals, particularly those who suffer from degenerative conditions, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, and bacterial imbalances can be very sensitive to probiotics. Whenver you add beneficial bacteria to your regimen, they will be effective in “killing off” any pathogenic or bad bacteria. When this occurs, it can cause unpleasant systems, such as a worsening of your current problems. This is nothing to be concerned over though, because it means that the beneficial bacteria are working hard on your gut to get rid of anything that is not supposed to be there. Whenever you add in a probiotic, whether it be in food or supplement form, it is important to go slowly and settle on one dose for a few days before increasing to a therapeutic level.

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