Bacteria in a new light

I rant about a lot of things. And then, when some research comes out to support my view, my soap box gets ever taller. In this case, we’re talking about microbes. I have always been trained that our bodies are actually filled with bacteria that, for the most part, help us, and thus recommend people take probiotics or eat probiotic-containing foods to keep the little guys live and active. Things like sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, miso, and my personal addiction, Kevita (and Kombucha). But I recently fell upon some great numbers: we are made of 3 trillion cells, plus 11 trillion bacterial organisms that we cannot see. That is amazing to me.

Basically, there are revolutionaries out there (read about them here) trying to change our idea of the human body to include these microorganisms. I think med students should absolutely consider the microbiome as another system, like the immune system, cardiovascular system, etc.

Why are they so important?
Probiotic bacteria in our gut guard against yeast infections, indigestion, IBS, diarrhea…need I say more? 70 percent of our immune system is found in our gut, thanks to these critters. We eat plant material all the time that we cannot break down. The bacteria does it for us. And, we do not take in sufficient vitamins to make our bodies work. Microbes that live in our gut produce those vitamins, such as B2, B12, folic acid, and K2.

Do we all really need to incorporate probiotics into our diet?
Well, one out of three people are predicted to have candida, an overgrowth of fungus that sufficient probiotics would keep at bay. Most of us in the U.S. have chlorinated tap water, which kills off a lot of our flora. And, of course, the over-prescribing of antibiotics has lead many to a gut full of the wrong kind of microbes, causing them fatigue, sugar cravings, and skin eruptions.

How should we go about getting our probiotics?
For sure success, take a three-fold approach of incorporating food containing live and active cultures, a probiotic supplement, and plenty of good, filtered water. There are a ton of great products out there nowadays, I’ve pictured a few, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Making your own sauerkraut is ridiculously easy and cheap. Also, look at your sugar consumption–and if you can’t stop consuming it, you need this good bacteria the very most of all.

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