Are Probiotics Right for You?

Ingesting a dose of friendly bacteria is supposed to help you feel better inside and out. Researchers are regularly providing new evidence supporting the role of good bacteria in maintaining our well-being. Boosting our digestive health and immunity, is known to ward off colds and allergies, and keeping bowels healthy are just a few of the noted benefits.

Probiotic literally means “for life,” which is apropos, given we are made up of bacteria. Yet in a germ phobic society (think hand sanitizers etc.), it’s no wonder we don’t have the collection of bacteria living in our bodies that we once had millions of years ago when early man consumed mostly non-fermented food. 

Tips before taking a probiotic
“The right types of bacteria promote healthy metabolism and diminish inflammation, which can harm our health,” says Australian Endocrinologist Katherine Samaras, Professor and clinical fellow at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney. “The wrong types cause systemic inflammation, which damages our arteries, promotes diabetes and fatty liver disease, and is considered to contribute to accelerated aging, including cognitive [brain function] decline.”

For most, including yogurt with live cultures, kefir, lassi or a probiotic drink in their diet is probably enough. Yogurt should be whole milk with little sugar, sugar feeds the bad bacteria.
 
If you plan to introduce good bacteria to your gut through a probiotic supplement, it’s important to feed them properly. This means consuming prebiotics – think high-fiber foods, including legumes, such as beans, lentils and peas, whole grains, asparagus, banana, leeks, garlic, nuts, vegetables and fruit. Consider avoiding the consumption of highly processed carbohydrates and sugary or fast foods that cause “bad bacteria” overgrowth.

 “Our health starts and ends with what we choose to put in our mouths,” is Professor Samaras’ blunt advice, “and no supplement can neutralize the junk we may choose to eat.”

Remember, before changing your diet in any way – always seek the advice of a medical practitioner.

Source: Adapted from an article in Australian Women’s Weekly

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