Probiotics are living microorganisms that are symbiotic to humans. They play an extremely important role in your health. While they reside in every tissue and organ of your body most can be found in your gut in the form of your intestinal flora. These beneficial bacteria even can be found on the outside of your body on the surface of your skin. Probiotics create a physical barrier defending you from bad bacteria both inside and outside the body. Of the 100 trillion cells that make up your body 90% of them are probiotics.
There are hundreds of different types of probiotics with names like lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterial, lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacterium longum. These beneficial bacteria perform many important functions for your health including:
Assisting in the digestion of food
Preparing nutrients for assimilation
Defending you against viruses and fungus
Strengthening the immune system
It has been estimated that 60% of your immune system can be credited to probiotics. A lack of sufficient amounts of beneficial bacteria weakens your immune system and leaves you open and exposed to germs, bad bacteria, and virus. When you have enough of these beneficial bacteria they keep the bad bacteria in balance. For example, the acidophilus to E-coli ratio in the gut of a person who only eats plants is 9:1. However, the same ratio flips to 1:9 in the gut of meat eating people.
The majority of probiotics colonize in the large intestine. They form a “rain forest” type of ecosystem in your gut that may take two years or more to rebuild if it is destroyed. These living organisms form a neural network that is sometimes called your “second brain.” This neural network in your gut takes in information in the form of energy from your external environment and remains in constant communication with your first brain through your central nervous system helping you to make intuitive decisions. Hence the term “gut feeling.” If properly developed this extra sensory mechanism can help to guide you towards the good and protect you to avoid dangerous situations when you pay attention.
Where do probiotics come from? In most cases you were born with them inherited from your mother during gestation and from the natural birthing process. During a delivery through the birth canal, a newborn baby picks up bacteria from his/her mother. These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by Cesarean section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.
Threats to probiotics include drinking chlorinated water and the use of antibiotics internally and topically. Heavy doses of these chemicals may wipe out most or all of the microorganisms residing in your gut and other organs both good and bad. Stress can also contribute to an overgrowth of harmful bacterial by changing your body chemistry making it more acidic which is what bad bacteria loves giving them a chance to thrive.
How can we boost our levels of probiotics?
Fermented Foods – Raw fermented sauerkraut and kim chee made from cabbage is an excellent sources of probiotics. What makes our sauerkraut and kim chee unique is the fact that the cabbage, onions and garlic have a high sulfur content which inhibits the growth of the bad bacteria while allowing the growth of beneficial bacteria. However, probiotics are heat sensitive and are destroyed by the cooking process. Therefore, you must make sure your fermented foods are not pasteurized, irradiated, or heat processed in any way. I would also suggest that you choose only organic fermented foods in order to minimize your exposure to toxic pesticides used in conventional farming. I like the Beagle Bay Organics brand available at most Whole Foods and some health food stores. I would suggest that you avoid yogurt and kefir because of the health problems associated with the consumption of dairy products.
Swimming in the ocean, gardening and just playing outside in the dirt will also help you to recolonize your beneficial bacteria. Shaking hands, hugging and other traditional forms of human and animal contact is nature’s way of increasing the biodiversity of your beneficial bacteria.
Since it may take two years or more to completely rebuild your intestinal microflora the regular use of supplements and the other protocols mentioned above should be practiced on a regular basis along with avoiding the use of antibiotics and drinking chlorinated water and other beverages as much as possible. Doing so will improve the assimilation of nutrients in your food, boost your immune system, improve your overall health while developing the strength of your “second brain.”