We have all seen the TV commercials touting the benefits of probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich food, such as yogurt, for digestive health. However, what many people don’t realize is that probiotics are not just a one-hit wonder for your digestive system, but also offer a multitude of benefits that can directly or indirectly impact daily as well as long-term health.
First and foremost, a healthy gut is the starting point to a healthy (or unhealthy) lifestyle. Your body is like anything else in life -- your job, your relationships, your garden -- you get out of it what you put into it. The gut, or digestive system, absorbs and processes the foods you eat so if your gut is not working at an optimal level, it cannot process and deliver all the healthy nutrients you need no matter how many of them you put into your body. Not only that, but because your gut also filters out substances that can negatively affect your health, if your digestive system is not functioning properly, it loses some of its filtering effectiveness, causing delivery of unhealthy substances to all parts of your body. Therefore, in order to provide the rest of your body with healthy nutrients and prevent unhealthy substances from being delivered to other parts of your body, it is important to make sure the digestive system, where nutrition starts, is functioning properly.
Obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s, autism, and multiple sclerosis -- just to name a few -- are all conditions that are increasingly more prevalent despite all of the advancements we continue to make in technology and medicine. Many researchers believe that the reason for this rise is due, at least in part, to unhealthy digestive systems caused by our obsession with cleanliness, sanitization, and over-prescribed antibiotics. Our digestive system is full of, or should be full of, good bacteria or “friendly bugs.” These friendly bugs are meant to keep our digestive system balanced and in check, which in turn allows our gut to properly and efficiently feed and nourish the rest of our body. However, researchers are finding that today we have fewer and fewer “friendly bugs” than previous generations. The reason for this, it is believed, is that we have become so dependent upon hand sanitizers, spotless cleanliness, and antibiotics that we have killed off our own friendly bugs that keep the digestive system in balance. What’s more, our quest for cleanliness as well as the overuse of antibiotics has led to stronger, antibiotic resistant “bad bugs” and harmful bacteria. As a result, making sure there are enough “good bugs” in the digestive system is more important than ever.
Adding probiotics through foods, such as fermented foods and yogurt which naturally provide probiotics, or by taking probiotic supplements, has been shown to increase the number of “good bugs” in the digestive system, making it a happier, healthier and more effective starting point for good health. Probiotics have not only been shown to provide support for better digestive health, but because they help create a healthy gut which contributes to overall health, probiotics have also been shown to support the immune system. Studies suggest that adding probiotics to the diet can help to reduce allergies, improve skin, combat obesity, reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and improve urinary and female health.
The benefits of adding probiotics as part of a healthy lifestyle has become much more well known the last couple of years and I had many of my juice customers asking about adding probiotics to their daily routine. As a result, Garden of Flavor began researching the viability of including living probiotic cultures in some of our juice recipes. When we determined that the probiotic cultures thrived in our organic cold-pressed juices, I decided to offer probiotics in four of our juices.
Whether it be through a juice, a supplement, or lots of pickles, test out different ways of introducing more of these good bugs to your gut and figure out what works for you. Stick with it and I guarantee you'll see and feel the difference in no time.
Watch the video below for a delicious probiotic-packed recipe!