I read an incredible statement not too long ago that astounded me: “According to the most recent estimate, there are more bacteria in one square centimetre of your colon than there are human beings who have ever walked the earth.” I couldn’t find the original source of the quote, but it got me to thinking about the ecosystem that lives within us. The bacteria in our bodies outnumber our human cells ten to one; think about that for a second, it’s absolutely incredible! Good digestive health is paramount to good overall health and keeping the beneficial bacteria in abundant supply is key to making sure we have excellent health. The trouble begins when medications, vaccines, stress, travel, poor diet, nutrient deficiencies, and hormonal changes decrease the population of good bacteria in our bodies.

Probiotics play a significant role in:
• A healthy digestive system
• Alleviating constipation, diarrhea and inflammatory bowel conditions
• Controlling overgrowth of bad bacteria and fungus
• Respiratory and allergy responses
• Supporting the immune system
• Manufacturing vitamins
• Protecting against pathogens
• Enhancing detoxification

The great news is that we can increase the friendly bacteria in our bodies by adding certain foods to our diet. Cultured foods are important and have been around for thousands of years. Naturally cultured or lacto-fermented foods contain enzymes and bacteria that help digest food and eliminate waste. Some examples of naturally fermented foods include sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee and kombucha and cultured dairy products such as buttermilk, yogurt and kefir. How many of us are actually eating these foods every day though? And if you’re eating yogurt, is it unsweetened and free from artificial flavours and colouring? Probiotic viability is negatively affected by heat and exposure to other ingredients such as flavours and sugars.

Supplementing with probiotics is a much more guaranteed way of knowing you’re getting the friendly bacteria your digestive system needs. Probiotic supplements contain high doses of multiple strains of bacteria and clearly list the specific strains on the label. For example, each capsule of Ultimate Flora Critical Care has 50 billion friendly bacteria comprised of 10 different strains that are prevalent in our digestive tracts. It is 50 times more potent than a serving of yogurt and guaranteed until date of expiry. On top of that, the capsules are enteric coated to protect the probiotics through the harsh environment of the stomach so the probiotics get to where they need to go. It is a much easier way to get your probiotics and lighter on the wallet compared to 50 servings of yogurt a day!

Taking care of your digestive health is one of the most profound things you can do for your overall health. You take a multivitamin every day to fill the holes in your diet; think of probiotics as a multivitamin for your gut!

By Caroline Farquhar RHN, BA, EMP