Did you know that if your digestive system is healthy it is the home to 100 trillion friendly bacteria? And that these bacteria are there to keep the bad bugs defeated, to help digest your food, manufacture necessary nutrients and guard against disease?
Babies get their first dose of healthy bugs during the process of natural childbirth. Breast milk contains more healthy bacteria. A professor at the University of Illinois stated that “beneficial bacteria that live in a baby’s intestine are all important to an infant’s health, growth, and ability to fight off infection. The research further showed that caesarean section babies and formula fed babies were less likely to get sick if they were given appropriate probiotics.
Probiotics literally means “for life” and is the term used to describe supplements of healthy bacteria.
The benefits to babies start even before birth. A leading medical journal (Lancet 2003) published research showing that when pregnant women consumed probiotics their babies were less likely to suffer from eczema for up to 2 years after birth.
Italian research on babies with chronic constipation revealed that when they were given the healthy bacteria “Lactobacillus reuteri” they had more frequent bowel movements.
Of course, adults need ample friendly bacteria also. In our country the food that many people eat that contains healthy bugs is yoghurt. The most helpful yoghurts are the ones that contain lactobacillus, bifidus and acidophilus. And you will benefit more from full fat yoghurt which is low in sugar, rather than low fat yoghurt high in sugar. Traditional foods such as sauerkraut, miso and kefir are also high in good bacteria.
Antibiotics taken by mouth will deplete your digestive system of bacteria quickly. Taking probiotics while you are on antibiotics can decrease the occurrence of diarrhoea. After finishing a course of antibiotics, it takes months to recharge your digestive system with an adequate supply of good bacteria. Onions, garlic, bananas and green vegetables are the foods known to feed the good bugs already in your system while sugars and fats in processed foods feed the bad bacteria.
If you decide to invest in a probiotic supplement to help you and your family be healthy remember that they are not all the same. Compare the labels to see how many good bacteria are contained in each dose and which good bacteria are included. Generally, the greater the variety of good bacteria in a formula and the higher the number of them the more beneficial it will be. Store them in the fridge as they will decrease in potency if left at room temperature.
Side benefits of probiotic use can include less bloating and decreased inflammation of the bowel. Something that many people suffer from.
So, go on, include some yoghurt in your daily meals, I often mix plain yoghurt with a little mayonnaise, mustard and garlic to make a healthy, delicious salad dressing.