This was something that took me awhile to figure out when I was first figuring out natural living. The whole foodies were constantly saying to eat, drink, take, and ferment your probiotics. But it’s hard to ferment it if you don’t know what *it* is. So what are probiotics and how do you get them?
The world is made up of good bacteria and bad bacteria. If you have more good bacteria than bad, then the good is winning and you don’t get sick. Probiotics are the good bacteria. But what are prebiotics and antibiotics? And why are probiotics so important.
Prebiotics are plant fibers that probiotics eat. You need prebiotics to keep the probiotics alive and healthy. The probiotics break down the fibers that you cannot process. Handy, huh? Sources of prebiotics are:
- Jerusalem Artichoke
- Raw Honey
- Raw Maple Syrup
Probiotics are the good bacteria. They boost your immunity to, well, everything. Probiotics can:
- Help cure allergies (including lactose intolerance – it’s working for my son!)
- Prevent food poisoning
- Skin irritations
- Improve Digestion
- Kidney Stones
- Improves Brain Function
Probiotics are live bacteria that you eat and are found in fermented foods. Sources include:
- Raw milk (one of the many, many reasons you should drink raw milk! We drink raw goat’s milk in my house because of my son’s allergies. But we are in the process of testing his allergies and transitioning to cow milk.)
- Kefir (similar to yogurt. Learn how to make kefir here. It’s super easy!)
- Kombucha (fermented tea. I love it!! Find it here. Learn how to make it here.)
- Raw fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi (both are fermented cabbage; find them here and here)
- Miso Soup and Tempeh (both fermented soy – although many people avoid soy because most USA soy is GMO, well that’s one reason. I eat soy in moderation.)
- Sour Pickles (fermented with salt, not with vinegar)
- Supplements (I keep probiotic supplements in the house for days we don’t get fermented foods. Find the ones we use here and here.)
Note on probiotic supplements: Whole foods is better than the supplement, always. If your probiotic makes you sick or nauseous, check the inactive ingredients. There may be some ingredients, such as minerals, that you are not able to digest. Try another brand or, better yet, start making kefir or kombucha!
One of the biggest things that probiotics can do is cure allergies, food intolerances, and acid reflux. Probiotics strengthens the lining of your intestines, kills the bad bacteria, and improve your immune system. When you have an allergic reaction to food, your immune system is trying to protect you. An allergic reaction is when your body overproduces an antibody (a very detailed explanation can be found here). This overproduction causes an imbalance in your gut. Probiotics keep that balance in check and prevent & cure a lot of problems. Yes, you can inherit allergies, but you can also nurture, protect, and strengthen your gut to overcome it!
My adopted son was born violently allergic to everything. Even lotion with soy would make him violently sick and he couldn’t breath within 15 minutes of application. When he came home at 1 month old, he was on a prescription formula that was 57% corn syrup and 4 medicines he took daily (2 otc, 2 prescription). I switched him to raw goat’s milk (full of probiotics!) and he was off all meds within 1 week! I also give him supplements that include cod liver oil and probiotics.
Antibiotics are very effective at killing the bad bacteria. But…..they also kill the good bacteria. Antibiotics are rarely a good idea. My 14 month has never had antibiotics and I there are very, very, very few circumstances that I would even consider it. Antibiotics are made to use for bacteria infections, not viral infections. Unfortunately, they are prescribed for all types of infections. Common viral infections (not bacteria infections) that doctors prescribe antibiotics for (this list is from the Mayo Clinic & the CDC):
- Most ear infections
- Most sore throats
- Stomach virus
- Upper respiratory infection
Repeated use of antibiotics results in antibiotic resistance. Yep, the antibiotics quit working. The bacteria becomes immune to them. The antibiotics also cause a lot of damage to the good bacteria in your system since it kills those, too. The good bacteria is what keeps you healthy, so if you kill those, your immune system is compromised, allowing bad bacteria to take over, resulting in you taking more antibiotics….. It’s a vicious cycle. Don’t start! Do you, your kids, or someone you know always seem to be on antibiotics? It’s the antibiotic resistance working.
Instead of reaching for the antibiotics, go for probiotics! Fight the bad bacteria by taking more good bacteria. For more information, check out 5 ways to heal your gut after antibiotics from Natural Family Today.
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