Part of why we don’t fully understand exactly how our own bodies work is because what we consider a function of our bodies may actually be a function of the billions upon billions of bacteria that are living within us and on the surface of our skin. Did you know there are roughly 500 different species and 100 trillion total microorganisms that inhabit a normal healthy colon? And that is just one area of our digestive systems. If we look at a cross section of our skin under a microscope for instance we would quite clearly see that humans are absolutely crawling with life forms. A bit freaky? Yes, perhaps. But not all bacteria and “critters” are created equal and this is an extremely important aspect of life within this body. It is fascinating to learn that humans actually contain 10 times more bacteria cells than actual human ones! Many of these microorganisms are what can be referred to as microflora, and are actually helping us a great deal.
In fact, without these little microscopic friends life within this great machine we call a body could not exist. Yes, it is a strange system we’ve had set up for us but one that has proven itself to work rather well throughout the test of time.
Throughout time many medical researchers proclaimed that these massive colonies of bacteria, such as lactobacillus bulgaricus, lactobacillus casei, streptococcus, and bifidobacterium which are 4 of the primary ones found in our intestines, did very little of anything for us. They didn’t necessarily harm us in any way but they also didn’t do anything helpful or health promoting. Another common belief was that we should try and limit the amount of bacteria we come in contact with for fear of getting sick, and that is was perfectly safe to use antibiotic substances on the regular to cure infections. Times have changed and while the main stream medical world has a long way to come in regards to truly understanding our relationship with the creatures living within and on our bodies, we have come a long way. People are realizing that while antibiotics most definitely have their place and can potentially save lives, they should be used with caution, respect, and thoughtfulness. There are way more guests attending this party than the pathogens that are ruining everyone's fun. Antibiotics wipe everything out including our friendly flora. While it is possible to rebuild our healthy bacteria levels it can often become a process that takes a great deal of time and care. We are first indoctrinated with bacteria as babies during labor from our mother’s body, and then consume a wide variety of flora, predominantly bifidobacterium, through breast milk. From that point on we come in contact with many forms of bacteria through the air we breathe, foods with eat, from our water and from objects we touch. We are also exposed to substances, chemicals and influences that shift our microbiological balance. Processed sugars and foods, pesticides, flouride and chlorine in our water, environmental pollutants, toxic body care products, pharmaceutical medications, and even an imbalance in chemicals that
our own bodies produce such as adrenalin and cortisol can cause an imbalance within our microflora.
All this being said, what is it that these trillions of healthy bacteria are really doing for us aside from keeping the pathogens in check? Where does one even begin. They play a major role in everything from nutrient manufacturing and absorption to actually regulating our intestine’s lymphatic tissue for a healthy and robust immune system. In fact, 83% of our immunity resides in the wall of our digestive system. Bacteria in our digestive systems also vastly aid our absorption of calories and nutrients to the point where without them we would become severely malnourished. These probiotics actually break down our nutrients and then carry them through our intestinal barrier where they can then be absorbed into our bloodstream. Not only that but the probiotics themselves are actually producing vitamins that we then absorb such as vitamin K, biotin, folic acid and the very critical vitamin B 12. It is a little known fact that vitamin B 12 is actually a nutrient manufactured by bacteria living within our own bodies. One particular strain of bacterium, lactobacillus, deserve a special shout out, as they play a huge role in our human experience.
They live within our bodies and also on the surface of our skin. One huge role which they play is to maintain an acid environment on areas which need a lower pH in order to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, such as on our surface tissues. This is the case with the surface of our skin which requires a pH of 3.5-4.5 in order to maintain it’s first line of defense by means of an “acid mantle”.
Lactobacillus taken internally through cultured foods or through supplements can also aid in digestive issues and help re-establish balance if there has been food poisoning or symptoms of a yeast infection.
It is quite clear that the goal is definitely not to create a sterile or “squeaky clean” environment when it comes to our bodies. Rather it is about having an abundant volume of healthy microflora which is needed to achieve and maintain optimal levels of health. Luckily for us these days there are so many delicious options for introducing probiotics into our system. A great suggestion would be to start experimenting with making your own cultured foods at home, this way you can be sure of the ingredients ad process. For instance, it is super easy to make your own live, vegan yogurt by simply taking coconut meat or soaked nuts and seeds and blending into a thick cream consistency with a little purified water. Then add some probiotic
powder, and let sit in a glass jar to culture. This is just one example. Another option would be to make your own cultured vegetables, or even kefir. If creating your own recipes isn’t feasible there are many products these days sold in health foods all over who are making incredible, raw, organic fermented and cultured foods. The key is getting variety and using these foods, or taking a high quality supplement, on a regular basis.
A few suggestions for food based probiotics: Cultured foods such kefir, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, apple cider or coconut vinegar, and miso.
Another great option is Sunbiotics Freeze dried probiotic enhanced nuts. You might never guess that these light crunchy almond snacks actually double as a probiotic supplement. The secret is in the seasoning where there are actuall live active probiotics added to the nuts after the freeze drying process. These nuts come in 4 amazing flavors: cheesy, chocolate, truffle and original almond. I love how the flavoring is light and not overwhelmingly sweet or salty. Amazing as a snack all on their own or as an addition to your meals such as a handful or two added to a salad. They taste so fresh and delicious! You can find Sunbiotics in a variety of health food stores around the nation or at RawGuru.com, which offers quick shipping that's free if your order is over $99.