There are approximately four to five hundred different strains of probiotic bacteria living in our guts, all of which are imperative in the proper digestion and absorption of the foods we eat. I am hoping this article will shed some light on the roles of the most commonly discussed strains so you can develop a better understanding of just how important they are not only to your gut, but to your physical and mental health as well.
One of the most beneficial strains of probiotic in our body
- Can survive within our guts for an extended length of time
- Can be found in fermented vegetables such as Sauerkraut and Kimchi
- Regulates our immunity, prevents disease, reduces gut permeability, digests proteins, absorbs our essential Omega 3 fatty acids, and fights infection and inflammation.
Mostly found in fermented dairy and soy products
- Helps maintain our immune systems and cholesterol levels
- A key player in battling pathogenic microbes, and in the manufacturing of lactase. (needed to digest lactose)
Pickles and Sauerkraut are the two best sources
- Shown to increase the levels of the brain growth hormone BDNF
- Enhances killer T cell activity and increasing cellular immunity
- Key to combating vaginosis
Bifidobacterium lactis (B.animalis)
Found in fermented milk and dairy products
- Key in the prevention of digestive illness
- Boosts immunity.
Miso soup, seaweed, yogurt and kefir are the some of the best sources
- Diarrhea and food allergy prevention
- Anxiety reduction
- Cholesterol maintenance
- Improved lactose intolerance
- Free radical scavenger and antioxidant protection
- Studies have also shown its role in the suppression of cancerous growths within the colon by the effect it has on lowering the bodies PH levels.
Prebiotics work like manure works in your garden. They provide the “miracle grow” in which healthy gut bacteria can flourish. The following is a list of benefits prebiotics offer.
- Lower inflammation by reducing the production of free radicals, and by doing so they decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, bowel disease, and diabetes.
- They can help prevent obesity by providing a sense of satiety (fullness) and decreasing the production of ghrelin (the hunger hormone).
- The absorption of calcium, and magnesium have been shown to increase with the consumption of prebiotic foods, and therefore help prevent osteoporosis.
- Onions, leeks, garlic and asparagus, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichokes, and chicory root are all prebiotic foods.
As you can see by keeping our guts healthy, our bodies can better absorb the nutrients we need to keep our cells healthy and to fight off disease. The proper maintenance of our gut bacteria has also been shown to have a direct effect on our mental health. If we cannot properly absorb the nutrients needed to produce the neurotransmitters that keep our brains healthy, depression, anxiety, and the symptoms of disorders such as ADHD will become more severe.
If you are currently taking or have taken antibiotics finding a good probiotic is imperative to restoring your gut health. Ensuring you are taking the proper strength and type of probiotic is also important, as is taking them at the appropriate times.
I believe everyone needs to consume a diet rich in prebiotic and probiotic foods due to the changes in the quality of our soil and subsequently the food we eat. Coffee, alcohol, medications, stress, and processed food can all play a role in the depletion of our healthy gut bacteria, and the increase risk of disease. Whether you choose a probiotic supplement, an increase in your intake of pre and probiotic foods, or both, I guarantee it will not take you long to notice the difference in your physical, emotional, and mental health.