Probiotics are the ‘beneficial bacteria’ in your gut. On average we have about 7lbs of bacteria in our digestive tracts, more than the weight of our combined skin cells! Our relationship with these organisms is complex and ideally 80% of the bacteria should be ‘good’ ie working for the good of our health. It is a fight for territory in our gut and that level of beneficial bacteria keeps the ‘bad’ bacteria or potentially harmful invaders from taking over the neighbourhood. The presence of some bad guys does keep us on our toes though and we are used to living with some element of danger. Rather than kill off these potential hazards, it is better to improve your good flora, which will create the best environment for them to flourish, a difficult one for the ‘baddies’ to populate.
These probiotics are the first line of our immune defence and protect us against invaders (viruses, bacteria and others), support good, clean digestion and liver and kidney function. More and more is being found out about the role that this gut flora plays in our health; not just that in the gut, but how this has far-reaching effects on the whole of the body. We recommend taking a probiotic supplement as a good insurance policy and to improve digestion and immunity.
Prebiotic foods help to feed probiotics and are known to be as important a consideration in gut health. Prebiotic foods include chicory, onions, leeks, garlic, beetroot, cabbage and Jerusalem artichoke. Eat raw where possible; raw, grated beetroot is particularly good on salads, with grated carrot, courgette, olive oil, lemon juice, turmeric and cumin and fennel seeds – a real digestive combination. Sauerkraut is extremely effective and by including a portion of beans, peas or green beans can provide resistant starch, a particularly good form of prebiotics.