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A Deeper Understanding of Probiotics (Part I)

Many fruits and vegetables are naturally covered in good bacteria. That natural wax on your organic apple is a film of Lactobacillus.

As many of you know, probiotics are products that contain bacteria. These bacteria are the “good” bacteria, and they are called probiotics to make it clear that they are designed to produce the opposite effect of antibiotics which kill bacteria. The most familiar of the good bacteria are the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacter.

The GI tract contains around 100 trillion bacteria. Everyone has good bacteria in their digestive tract, but not everyone has the same kinds of good bacteria, or in the same amounts. For the last few decades we have seen the rise of antibiotics, considered wonder drugs because of the lives that they saved. Unfortunately, we have also seen that too much of a good thing can be harmful.

The overuse of antibiotics has directly contributed to the development of antibiotic resistant bad bacteria, such as MRSA. We are only beginning to appreciate that there is another downside to taking antibiotics – they kill good bacteria.

In response to this we are now seeing a rise in the popularity of probiotics. Probiotics are a wonderful tool when used properly, but they are not a cure all, and they are still largely misunderstood. Some processed foods, such as yogurt and acidophilus milk, contain good bacteria. It is now becoming fashionable to put probiotics into all sorts of processed food products in an effort to come up with new and creative ways to give people these good bacteria. Good bacteria have been around for a lot longer than we’ve been around, and were available well before the invention of yogurt.

Where did we used to get our good bacteria?

You may be surprised to learn that many fruits and vegetables are naturally covered in good bacteria. For example, that natural wax on your organic apple (which by definition is not coated with man-made wax) is a film of Lactobacillus. Not only that, but plant foods also help to support the good bacteria in your digestive tract. These are two excellent reasons to eat more plants.

 

 

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