Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Probiotics -- help or hype?

Today, I'm happy to welcome guest blogger, Jeriann Watkins. You can follow her at

Can Probiotics Keep You Healthy?

Probiotics have been around for a while, but with the ever-increasing overuse of antibiotics, usage of probiotics is becoming more widespread. This article will explore what probiotics are and how they can help multiple health conditions.

The most basic description of probiotics is the phrase “good bacteria.” We tend to look at bacteria as gross and unhealthy, but bacteria are simply organisms. Some help your body and others hurt it. Some are harmful in certain scenarios, helpful in others, and neutral most of the time. The human body houses 10 bacteria for every one of our cells. Most bacteria leaves the body in the form of waste, but at any given time, our body mass is 1-2 percent bacteria.

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Antibiotics, as you probably know, are bacteria killers. They basically wipe out the bacteria in your body, particularly your gut, with the purpose of eliminating illness. Unfortunately, antibiotics also kill good bacteria, leaving your immune system susceptible to new attacks. And since bacteria reproduce at rapid rates, it doesn’t take long for bacteria to develop immunities to antibiotics. Rather than taking a patient-centered approach to medicine, many medical professionals overprescribe antibiotics in search of blanket solutions for all sorts of problems.

But how can you combat bacterial infections apart from taking antibiotics? Well, you can utilize your body’s beneficial bacteria with the use of probiotics.

Probiotics are tiny organisms/bacteria that promote the health of other beneficial bacteria in your body.  Taking probiotics is one of many ways you can promote a healthy immune system. But they also address very specific health concerns. Probiotics have been shown to have positive effects in combating diabetes, promoting prenatal health, and even affecting brain chemistry regarding mental health concerns. Specific probiotics can also help with liver detoxication and relieving symptoms of GERD.

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If you’re interested in probiotics, you can get them in two primary ways: through your diet and with supplementation. Supplements offer a way for you to control which probiotic organisms you’re getting and help you address specific conditions. But getting probiotics through your diet is also a great way to strengthen your immune system and address health concerns. Probiotics can be found in foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and yogurt. Fermentation is the key. Of course, the more natural and less processed an item is, the stronger an effect the probiotics will be able to have. Though it may be tempting, cooking your sauerkraut will actually kill the probiotics, so keep in mind that raw consumption is the way to go.

As with all health approaches, both medical and alternative, you’ll want to consult doctors, do scientific research, and pay attention to your own body’s reactions. When trying new supplements, medications, or even diets, closely monitor your reaction, always starting small and slowly increasing your implementation. This allows you to detect real changes and avoid/minimize negative reactions.

Do you have experience with probiotics? Share in the comments below!

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