Probiotics literally means, “for life.” They’re the sum total of the “good bacteria” – all 3 to 5 pounds of them! – that live in your gut and that help you to digest food, synthesize certain vitamins, and support your immune system. They also help keep in check other microorganisms like candida (yeast), parasites, and other bacteria that can cause problems when they grow out of control.
Even though we have billions of these microscopic critters inside of us, many of us still don’t have adequate numbers of them for optimal health. Or, we don’t have them in the proper proportions to one another. This can happen because of poor nutrition, medications, antibiotics (literally, “against life”), hormones (birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy), and chemicals in our food and environment.
You can help keep the flora in your gut healthy by eating fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir (typically made with more probiotics than yogurt, and fermented longer). Kefir tastes slightly acidic and has a pleasant, fizzy effervescence to it.
Other excellent fermented food choices include kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi (pickled vegetables), tempeh and miso. Both of the latter are made with fermented soybeans – the best way to eat your soy.
By keeping the bacteria in your digestive tract strong, you’ll enjoy both better digestion (including less gas!) and a stronger immune system!