In a world of spreading illness and disease, I feel like the term ‘antibiotics’ is used more commonly than ‘probiotics.’ Perhaps this is just me, but regardless of your personal experience with either, I think it’s time that probiotics get more attention in general. With that being said, this is simply my own research that I have done for my own problems/enjoyment. I am not doctor or dietitian. This is simply just a peace of my journey that has fascinated, and helped me along in this thing we call life here on earth.
So let’s clarify a couple things before we begin.
Antibiotics kill bacteria and probiotics are bacteria. Probiotics are naturally occurring within the human body and are necessary for many bodily functions, while antibiotics are a man-made medicine used to fight the bad bacteria that makes us sick and can potentially lead to death. Since antibiotics are made to attack bacteria, sometimes the good bacteria within our microbiome is harmed as well. This is when our digestion is at risk.
What does at risk mean when it comes to digestion? We’re talking about gas, bloating, low energy, acne, stomach and back pain and even the eventual vitamin deficiency. Individuals who experience these symptoms may feel better or worse after eating specific foods and be diagnosed with a food sensitivity to a given food group. I can personally say, I totally know what this whole cycle is all about.
Growing up as a child, I could eat anything I wanted, properly digest it, and move on with my life. As I’ve gotten older, become more stressed, been prescribed antibiotics for illness, and been through an eating disorder, my digestion is far from what it used to be. For the past few years I’ve considered myself intolerant or unable to digest many foods that I used to absolutely adore and digest just fine. One of these is gluten. After some research I learned that there is (perhaps) no such thing as a gluten intolerance. The concept being that either one has celiac/coeliacs disease or a poor/weakened digestive system. This made sense for me, especially considering that I had once been able to digest gluten just fine. It was at this time, I ran across different perspectives on not only the importance of digestive health, but also the great benefit probiotics can be for managing, and in some cases, reversing poor digestion symptoms.
Essentially, probiotics are the good bacteria that our gut flora need in order for us to flourish. Probiotics can be found in foods like yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, apple cider vinegar with the mother, juices, miso etc. The fermentation process in order to create the probiotic aspect within each of these foods is something that has been passed down for many generations now and is still being studied. Thus far however, there are many testimonials and claims of the power of probiotics. According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, some of these include:
- Probiotics can lessen the severity and duration of intestinal infections
- Probiotics may prevent and treat yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Probiotics may be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Probiotics can minimize the occurrence of bladder cancers
- Probiotics can be used to treat eczema and asthma in children
Also, draxe.com brings forth that the benefits of probiotics include:
- boosting immune system
- improving digestive function
- fighting food-borne illnesses
There is also now research on probiotics to prove things like their abilities to fight cancer, treat kidney stones, prevent cavities, manage autism, and treat liver disease.
Since this post is all about digestion, that’s what we will focus on, but the list of probiotic benefits seems to keep growing! And also, in my case, the improved digestive function is what really made the biggest difference for my overall health.
Once I began to make an effort to incorporate probiotic rich foods in my diet, and even took supplements, I slowly began to see an improvement in my digestion. (We are talking over years here.) I am now able to consume most everything that only a year ago would cripple me over in sharp pains. The biggest change I have seen happened once I supplemented apple cider vinegar with the mother into my diet. I did many hours of research and tried a variety of solutions. It has been a process, but it’s crazy to feel like a normal human again. However, this is just what worked for me, and I can’t say that it would work for any one with digestive issues.
I highly suggest that if you do struggle with poor digestion, you find the solution that works best for you by doing your research and evaluating your body’s digestive process based on feel. Different levels of poor digestion call for different diet and lifestyle changes, so it is important to talk to your doctor or do more research that fits your personal situation. My hope is that this post will simply help you be more aware if you struggle with these same issues and feel like your case is hopeless. I used to think the same thing, but here I am! 🙂 You can do this!
See my next blog post for my favorite apple cider vinegar “cocktails” !!