Natural Health


Probiotics - Health for Your Digestive Tract


Healthy Bowel FloraToday I have some very practical tips for you regarding the inner life of your digestive tract. It's home to friendly microbes commonly known as gut flora and can give you considerable trouble if you neglect to look after it. You need to feed these good bacilli because they are essential for good health and immunity and need to be nourished in order to stay alive and in good shape. How? By eating plenty of prebiotics, i.e. foods that nourish the friendly bacteria. These foods include raw oats, unrefined wheat and inulin containing foods such as roots & rhizomes in general, dandelion root, wild yam, artichokes, chicory, garlic and leeks. Eat plenty of them, but be warned. Inulin tends to produce gas, and your system may take a little while to get used to it :-)

Unfortunately, our gut 'goodies' can be destroyed by antibiotic treatment, stress, excessive alcohol and exposure to toxic substances. This makes their harmful competitors thrive and can result in faulty digestion and fungal overgrowth such as candidiasis, a reason why many women suffer from thrush when on antibiotics. Fortunately there is plenty we can do.

For example, we can get some probiotics, i.e. dietary supplements of friendly lactobacilli and bifidobaceria that can be obtained in various forms. We can also eat fermented foods that contain therapeutic amounts of good bacilli, such as sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt and drinks containing 'live cultures', or else we can buy the probiotics from a supermarket or chemist in capsule or powder form.

By the way, it's a good idea to ensure supplementary products have been shipped and stored in refrigerated conditions so that the bacilli are still alive when you buy the product. Unfortunately, supplements without enteric coating also loose a lot of bacilli during their hazardous journey through the digestive tract and should therefore be taken without additional food to keep digestive acid to a minimum.

Poeple tend to think that probiotics are a magic cure for constipation, bloating and yeast infections because they get such fast, symptomatic relief when taking them. To obtain long-term benefits from supplements however, you should also eat plenty of prebiotic foods at the same time (and forever after that :-) in order to feed the newly colonised bacteria. It would also help if you could drastically decrease sugars and refined flour products, because these are super foods for the 'badies'.

health drinkAnd finally, here's an easy and inexpensive recipe to keep your gut flora healthy - my own fermented drink recipe made from good-quality organic wheat, rye, oats, millet or triticale (avoid old, cracked or rancid grain). I prepare a sterilised glass jar and fill ½ with grain that has been thoroughly rinsed in a strainer until free of dirt, dust and chaff. Then I add distilled water until the jar is nearly full and allow the grain to soak for 24 hours in a warm place. Thereafter I shake the jar, strain off the liquid, and let the ‘soak water’ ferment in a warm place, covered with a piece of cheesecloth. Depending on temperature, this will take about 36-72 hours, after which time I store the liquid in a refrigerator for up to one week. The discarded grain can be used in sourdough bread and soup etc. Drink ½ glass of the fermented liquid each morning on an empty stomach, and your intestinal flora will be grateful!


Author: Margaret Lepke


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