By Paulette Lambert, R.D., C.D.E,
Chief Dietitian at California Health & Longevity Institute
A growing body of research suggest that we can treat and even prevent some diseases with foods and supplement that contain a certain kind of bacteria. “microbiome” is really simply about billions of tiny organisms that live in your body, mostly in your gut, bacteria’s with great diversity that have specific health benefits. The balance of the good ones and bad ones is now thought to have a major role in maintaining a healthy gut and even in the prevention of chronic diseases. When in balance, your immune system is stronger, your digestion good, pathogens are kept in check, and it helps with nutrient absorption.
Research has been promising in the treatment of some specific medical disorders that are difficult to manage and many are resorting to giving probiotic a try. While it’s generally considered safe, it can be risk for those with impaired immune systems. It’s important to know is what probiotic strains work best for your condition, different strains of the bacteria have different effects.
Research has been promising in the treatment of the following:
- Chronic constipation
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- H.pyloric (cause of ulcer, reflux)
- Urinary tract infections
- Vaginal infections
- Infections in the digestive tract caused by Clostridium Difficile
If you wish to try a probiotic supplement, check with your doctor to see if there is documented medical evidence for real benefit or else you may be just spending money on expensive supplement that does not do any good. Keep in mind that in the US probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which do not undergo the testing and approval process that drugs do so there’s no guarantee that the types of bacteria listed on a label are effective for the condition you’re taking them for.
The key for general good “gut health” is consuming a varied diet with plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Fiber feeds good bacteria and keeps your digestive tract running smoothly. Eating foods that contain natural probiotics such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt with live culture, and kefir, a drinkable yogurt all help ensure a happy gut and are especially helpful after taking antibodies for an infection.
Other lifestyle habits that are unhealthy for you in general, lack of sleep, stress, lack of exercise, chewing sugar free gum, and smoking are unhealthy for the “good bugs” in your gut. Most importantly listen to your gut. Changes in your gut function can be a sign of other medical concerns that need attention