an intro to probiotics

Hey there to all my millennials! I’m so excited to be here today to contribute to Postmodernhood. Brittany, thank you for inviting me to share with your wonderful readers! I was overjoyed when she asked me to join up with her, and thrilled to hear that the subject matter is something I am seriously passionate about. Today we are going to talk all about probiotics! What a strange thing to be passionate about amirite?

Well, lets call this bacteria 101 and start at the very beginning….

There is bacteria all around us, every moment of everyday. And not just around us, but literally living inside of us. Although bacteria can be found in all areas of our body, their main hub is in our intestines. There is good bacteria and bad bacteria. They are both living microorganisms and they are constantly battling for real estate. This is called our “inner ecosystem.” The good bacteria are commonly called probiotics.  In order to keep our inner ecosystem in balance, our intestines need to be the home to more probiotics (the good guys) than bad bacteria. So, why does our inner eco system need to be balanced?

Every single function of our bodies is directly related to our probiotic population dwelling in our inner ecosystem….Life starts in our gut! If the balance is disturbed some symptoms you might feel are sluggishness, sugar cravings, alcohol cravings, acne, constipation, weakened immune system, irritability, bloating, headaches…and pretty much every other “common ailment” in modern society!

Here are some ways probiotics work hard while living in your instestines:

* They feed on the food you eat, breaking it down for you so you don’t have to use your precious store of enzymes.

* They fight off the bad bacteria that are constantly trying to set up home. Bad bacteria are hungry for sugar and when they out number probiotics, you will feel it in *strong* food cravings. They’ll send the message to your brain to eat anything and everything in search of their sugar high. (Not just “sweets,” but remember that all processed grains, like pasta and bread, immediately turn to simple sugar during digestion).  The ONLY way to keep the bad bacteria in your intestines from taking more territory, is to continually consume probiotic rich foods.

* Good bacteria is also always hungry, but luckily they are on the hunt for vitamins and minerals signaling you to crave nutrient dense whole foods.

* They keep your bathroom visits regular.

* They cleanse your palate and release your body from food addictions.

* They support your immune system to release antibodies to any virus, bacteria or pathogen that make their way into your body.

Where do I find these magical micro organisms to keep the balance? Oh, I am so glad you asked! We can find probiotics in the forgotten food group, Fermented Foods! Fermented foods were a staple of all societies, tribes and villages for the entire existence of the human race. Native peoples instinctively knew the importance of bacteria and keeping the good guys around. They also understood the art of waiting, as fermented foods take a couple of days to a couple of months to prepare.

Here are some ways probiotics work hard in fermented foods:

* They have predigested it for you, making far more nutrients available, and their assimilation much easier.

* They act as a preservative, so your fresh produce can live much longer.

*They give fermented foods their characteristic tang/sourness/bite…a flavor profile the human body is designed to crave. (Did you know…women crave pickles during pregnancy, because their instincts are telling them to hunt for the tang of living probiotics to provide a balanced inner ecosystem to her baby!)

* They add depth of flavor.

In our modern world you do have the option of buying fermented food or probiotic pills at the store. But be warned, these companies aren’t always honest! Make sure the food label says “raw” and “traditionally” fermented to ensure it’s quality. Any heating (pasteurization) will destroy the enzymes and probiotics. While probiotic pills may seem convenient, they are very expensive, only contain a few strains of bacteria, and often don’t survive your stomach acid!

I like to go the “old fashioned route” and just make fermented foods myself. Traditional societies all around the world each had their own unique sauerkraut recipes depending on their culture and local food. Find my recipe here!

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