Healing Your Gut

TIME FOR A GUT CHECK: Find Out Why You Should Join the Culture Club

Beneath all those hard flat ab muscles, or maybe a bit of flab, we all have trillions of bacteria teeming together to help us digest our food and thwart off dangerous intruders. You can give these friendly bacteria a boost by adding probiotics found in the live microorganisms in foods such as yogurt and other fermented foods.

It’s easier than ever to get your fix these days: Not only is the yogurt industry exploding (over $2.26 billion worth), an increasing number of foods are being fortified with probiotics. While probiotics are by no means a magic pill, many experts feel they are useful when your body is out of balance due to traveling, stress, illness or taking antibiotics.

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and pickles, especially kimchi, are excellent sources for adding healthy bacteria to your gut and giving your digestive system the boost it needs to get rid of harmful bacteria and right itself back into balance.

According to The Mayo Clinic, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term.  Although as many as 1 in 5 American adults has signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, fewer than 1 in 5 who have symptoms seek medical help. Most people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress.

So let’s get back to the topic of healing our guts with probiotics or fermented foods that introduce 10 to 100 million new cultures of healthy bacteria to our digestive tract in just minutes. How do we know what to buy? Well, the amount and kind of “live” cultures vary, but the key words you are looking for on labels are like raw, lacto-fermented, or unpasteurized indicate that the bacteria haven’t been killed off in the manufacturing process. Homemade or store bought sauerkraut is extraordinarily rich in beneficial bacteria which help to colonize the gut, train the immune system and manufacture vitamins in the digestive tract.

Friendly bacteria are making their leap from fermented foods to powders, gels, creams, pills, chewables and liquids. Checkout your local drugstore, read labels and ask questions.

It’s great if you can eat fermented foods every day, but two to three times each week is a good start to improve poor digestion, yeast infections and balance out your body for a healthier You! When in doubt about what’s right for your body and improved health, ALWAYS visit your Primary Care Physician here at Alabama Regional Medical Services for advice and a plan to manage your symptoms.

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