Probiotics are essential microorganisms (a.k.a. helpful bacteria) that we need in our bodies to aid us in keeping our digestive system healthy and active. They help break down food in our digestive system, promote distribution of nutrients, keep our bowel movements regular, and most importantly, ward off any unwanted bacteria. Commonly found in yogurt, pro-biotics are easily introduced into the system by eating the correct foods, but can also be taken in a supplement form as a quick way to promote their growth.
What Happens When There Aren’t Enough Probiotics in the Body?
As a result of a lack of probiotic bacteria, many people experience irregular bowel movements, diarrhea, indigestion, gastritis, bad breath (due to the excess of candida), and yeast infections. Most of these are due to taking antibiotics or daily medications which kill bad bacteria along with good bacteria in the efforts of ridding the body of infections or sicknesses.
So, it is normally recommended to eat foods that promote the re-growth of probiotic bacteria or take a probiotic supplement after taking antibiotics, since it will help the body regain the necessary amount of good bacteria in your system, and will save you from experiencing any other ailments.
As a result of a lack of probiotics, the body’s immune system is less heightened, thus resulting in higher susceptibility to colds, flus, and infections. So, believe it or not, keeping a well-balanced diet that is high in probiotics (among other essential nutrients) can help the body fight against infections, recover from sicknesses, and keep you healthy year-round.
What Foods to Eat to Promote the Growth of Probiotics
Normally, probiotic bacteria are found in many sources such as fermented foods like sauerkraut, fermented soy beans or soy sauce, and pickles; and dairy products such as yogurt, whole milk, goat cheese, and kefir. One can also find probiotics in kombucha, since it is a form of yeast (fermented yeast in black tea) and contains high levels of probiotics. Additionally, drinking a small amount of apple cider vinegar will help the body regenerate its supply of probiotics (among other benefits).
Food markets or farmers markets are a great place to find probiotic-packed foods, since the foods in these places are usually home-made with natural ingredients, and are not processed like most other foods. Food supplement stores also have many different options for probiotic supplements, and they usually offer more than one way of taking them like pills, yogurts, cultures, among others.
Probiotics for Pregnant Women and Infants
Infants’ probiotic flora is passed to them by their mothers during the process of birth vaginal birth, and afterward during breastfeeding. All humans need probiotics in their system, and most people get them during these two processes. The types of probiotic bacteria past down from mother to child vary depending on the mother’s genetics, diet, and environmental exposures, and can vary from person to person. So, it is very important for pregnant women to keep a well-balanced diet that is rich in the right kinds of probiotics in order to “colonize” their children with the best probiotics possible. This will greatly impact the mother’s pregnancy experience, while also benefiting the child during the infant years and the rest of their life.
For women going through pregnancy, it is recommended to eat healthy amounts of naturally fermented foods such as kimchi, pickles, kombucha, and fermented soybeans; or foods such as natural yogurt, natural cheese, kefir, and natural milk in order to build up diverse probiotics and keep the levels healthy. This will benefit the mother with intestinal regularity, boosted immune system, clearer skin, more overall energy, and will help her body produce more prebiotics in her breastmilk, which will later be passed on to her newborn. Pregnant women can also take a probiotic supplement such as liquid probiotics, probiotic cereal, probiotic tablets, etc., all with the OK from their doctor.
The presence of probiotics in an infant’s system is quite important in their development since during the first stages of its life it is developing all the necessary weapons to continue thriving as a healthy little human being. If the mother doesn’t pass down the right amounts or types of probiotics during birth or breastfeeding, it becomes even more important since the infant will need a diverse colony of probiotics to be able to digest breastmilk, build their immune system, process nutrients, etc. To aid the mother in getting the child all the probiotics needed, there are supplements that she can add to breastmilk, formula, or baby food (once the baby is of age). Some of them are liquid and some of them are powder, and the mother should always consult the family’s pediatrician in order to find the right supplement that meets the infant’s needs.
Probiotics for Women’s Health
Women benefit greatly from a regular intake of probiotics. It is ideal for women to keep a healthy amount of probiotics in their system because it can aid in repairing and encouraging their health. Women taking probiotics have shown signs of improved overall vaginal health, fewer yeast infections, balanced hormones, and even better skin. Of course, it depends on which strands of probiotics they take, but with the help of a doctor, they can easily find exactly what they need for their own situations.
Why does it help with better skin? Probiotics actually have a detox element in them, since when there is the correct amount of living flora in their system it literally crowds out bad bacteria, some of which cause acne or blemishes. Also, the skin is much healthier when the digestive system is working well since the skin is very much affected by what goes through our bodies. Have you ever eaten a lot of sweets or potato chips one day and wake up to a zit or two on your face? This is a great example of how immediately affected our skin can be by what we are consuming. So, it is essential to keep good digestive health, not only because it helps with the inside of our body, but because it helps the outside of the body as well.
Probiotics for People Over 50
As the body ages, there are as many internal changes as there are external. Many of the internal changes that humans experience are related to the immune system, and the way their internal organs process foods and nutrients. It is common to experience gastrointestinal issues, indigestion, diarrhea, acid reflux, less tolerance to lactose, irritable bowel syndrome, among other ailments. Most of these issues usually come about when a person goes into what is called the 3rd age. The cause of this kind of ailments is due mostly to the decline of naturally produced antibodies among which are probiotics.
To begin the treatment of the internal ailments that humans experience during the 3rd age, many doctors suggest trying to repopulate the body’s probiotic flora. By doing so the body then can begin to replenish its supply of essential good bacteria and slowly begin to repair itself. For example: when a patient over 50 begins to experience trouble digesting food, a common treatment for this is taking probiotics as a daily supplement (be it probiotic-rich foods or probiotic supplements) and not medicines that are harder on the system, since the main goal is to encourage their body to begin to digest food as it used to when it naturally produced probiotics.
Many people over 50 prefer to eat foods like probiotic yogurt, whole natural milk, probiotic cereals or bars; or supplements that they can easily make into a breakfast shake or put into water. Additionally, since it is such a common need among people in the 3rd age, the probiotics supplements are very easy to find and are a convenient way to begin repopulating and keeping up the population of probiotics in their system.