Probiotics and Microflora: The Hows and Whys

Over the course of everyday life, your body is interacting with many different factors which have been developed to kill bacteria or have that effect when we are exposed to them.​ Here are a few of them:

  1. Excessive sugars are food for unhealthy bacteria in and on our bodies.
  2. Food Additives. (Link to allowed food additives.)
  3. Pesticides (like RoundUp) which have been sprayed on agricultural products.
  4. Antibacterial soaps and cleaners.
  5. Antibiotics either given to you or used on your foods (meat, chicken and eggs, farmed fish, etc)
  6. Chemicals, known (chlorine and fluoride) or unknown (food additives – colours, preservatives, etc)
  7. Environmental pollutants

Because it is virtually impossible to avoid this entire list, it is likewise necessary to actively manage your body’s microflora. How is this done?

  1. Actively avoid the items on the list above.
  2. Choose fermented foods to include in your daily diet (more about this below).Spend time in nature where your body will get exposure to a broad spectrum of bacterial strains.
  3. Having a regular contact with animals is also beneficial.
  4. Boost your soluble and insoluble fibre intake, examples being cooked, then refrigerated potatoes and unripe tropical fruits banana and plantains
  5. Probiotics taken intermittently.

​Daily exposure to broad spectrum bacterial sources are important, ​more important than supplementation.  When you are consuming fermented foods (kim-chi, miso, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, yogurt etc) you are ingesting many strains of bacteria that exist in these cultures. The greater number of beneficial strains that you have in your body the more resilient you will be to the harmful effects of the detrimental insults previously mentioned.  Even with this daily re-inoculation, most people do better when they supplement at regular intervals.  Most people who supplement with probiotics do not realize that they can achieve the necessary effect without continuously consuming probiotics.  My recommendation is take a course 14 days at 100 billion or 30 days at 30-50 billion every 3-4 months.  I prefer multi-strain products unless there is a specific goal that you are trying to target.

Be wary of the vast assortment of products that now claim to have probiotic capacity.  Many of these grocery store items only have token amounts of the claimed bacterial in them and many of them have strains that are not necessarily shown to provide a  benefit.  There is a CBC radio show that recently highlighted the “probiotic industry.”  It was well done and worth taking the time to listen to: GUTSY – The Fridge Light.  After all this you will likely know more than you want to about probiotics.