7 Signs You Should Be Eating Probiotics Foods
How do you know when you should eat more probiotics foods?
If you pay attention, your body provides valuable clues when it can use extra help. For optimal digestion and immune health (and a long list of other body functions), you need the correct ratio of “good” to “bad” bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.
The ideal ratio between the two types of bacteria in your gut is 85 percent “good” to 15 percent “bad”. When your gut bacteria maintain this ratio, the good, friendly guys typically keep the bad guys in check, giving you your best chance of enjoying optimal health.
What Happens When the Bad Guys Take Over…
It’s when the levels of the bad guys grow too high, compared to the beneficial bacteria in your gut, that you can begin to notice symptoms. There are indeed signs that your body sends out when you might have an imbalance. Some of these signs can be very subtle and may appear to be totally unrelated to your gut health!
If you suspect you might have an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria, you’ll want to increase your consumption of probiotic foods, and even supplement with a high-quality probiotic supplement to help restore the balance. Check out this list of the foods high in natural probiotics.
The probiotic supplement I recommend, and have actually formulated myself, has 10 beneficial bacteria strains, including a superstrain that’s hard to find in probiotic formulas. You can read more about Complete Probiotics here.
Is a Gut Flora Imbalance Happening Inside You? These 7 Signs May Provide Clues
Consider increasing your intake of probiotics if any of these conditions apply to you:
- You’ve taken an antibiotic.
It doesn’t matter if you just finished a course last week or if you took an antibiotic years ago. If you haven’t replenished the beneficial bacteria in your gut, you may have an imbalance of good-to-bad bacteria that can put you at risk.
- You can’t seem to lose weight, especially belly fat, no matter what.
An imbalance in your gut flora, or bacteria, can affect your insulin resistance, and therefore raise your risk of metabolic syndrome and blood sugar issues. Stubborn belly fat is a hallmark sign of metabolic syndrome.
- You have digestive issues.
If you experience gut issues such as bloating, cramping, or unusual gas after eating, or occasional constipation or diarrhea, there’s a good chance you may have an imbalance.
- Your skin is itchy or broken out.
Probiotics aid in the normal elimination of toxins via your gut. Since your skin is also a major elimination organ, skin issues may be a sign that you have a gut bacteria imbalance and not functioning optimally.
- You crave sugar, refined or processed foods.
There is new emerging evidence to suggest that certain gut bacteria feed off sugar and unhealthy trans fats in processed and refined foods.
Scientists believe these “bad” guys may actually influence your eating habits by putting out chemicals that travel along your vagus nerve, or the main communication channel between your gut and your brain. By maintaining a good bacteria balance, you help quiet the bad guys’ messages!
- You feel moody or blue.
Studies show that probiotics can actually alter brain function via your gut.
Made from the same type of tissue, your gut is literally your second brain. And many people are unaware that the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain.
- You feel tired during the day, and are not sleeping soundly at night.
Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is made from serotonin, and is normally found in abundance in your gut – even more so than in your brain. Gut bacteria affect both serotonin and melatonin production, so an ideal balance of good-to-bad is key.
I’d like to add one more sign, too… If you seem to “catch” every bug going around, look to your gut first for help. A whopping 80 percent of your immune system is located within your digestive system and can be influenced by a gut flora imbalance.
In summary, if any of these signs or conditions applies to you, it’s time to get more probiotics. There’s a good chance you may be suffering from an imbalance of good-to-bad gut bacteria. Remember, optimal health begins in your gut.
7 Things That Can Let the Bad Guys Take Over Your Gut
We’ve just looked at the signs that might mean you have a gut flora imbalance and need to eat more foods with probiotics, or even take a probiotic supplement.
Of course, some of these signs, especially the digestive issues if they are new to you, can be a red flag for more serious illness. Be sure to rule out any persistent concerns with your health care provider.
Instead of suppressing the symptoms with over-the-counter or even prescription drugs, as many people do for some of these conditions, I recommend you first take a closer look at your risk factors (listed below) for a gut bacteria imbalance.
What can make your balance of friendly gut bacteria go out-of-whack?
Whether you just finished a course last week or took them years ago, your balance may be altered. Hidden antibiotics in your food (especially factory-farmed meat and dairy) and antibacterial soaps count! Choosing organically produced range-fed meat and dairy helps you avoid unwanted food-sourced antibiotics.
Bottom line, most antibiotics – including antibacterial soaps – destroy all the bacteria in your gut, the good guys and the bad guys. And then if you eat a regular conventional diet devoid of live beneficial bacteria strains to replace them, you may actually end up reinforcing and allowing the bad bacteria strains to grow and flourish!
- Fluoridated and chlorinated water
The chlorine in chlorinated tap water can potentially destroy both the bad, pathogenic bacteria and the good, friendly bacteria in your gut. I recommend only drinking water that comes from a tested natural spring or has undergone high-quality filtration certified to remove chlorine, dangerous chlorination byproducts, and other hazardous substances.
In a similar manner, fluoride can adversely affect your beneficial gut bacteria, too. However, if your drinking water is fluoridated, as is the case with many public water systems, it is much more challenging to remove fluoride than chlorine and chlorination byproducts.
- Sugar and fructose
As I talked about earlier, new evidence suggests that certain unhealthy gut bacteria, yeast, and fungi feed off sugar and trans fats in processed and refined foods. And so they won’t starve, they may actually drive you to eat more of these unhealthy foods by sending chemical messages to your brain!
- Processed, refined foods
Processed foods, including pasteurized foods such as regular milk, can harm your good bacteria. Refined grains containing gluten can be a double-whammy, as gluten is especially damaging to your gut flora and overall health.
- Bioengineered foods, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals
Genetically engineered foods (containing GMOs) contain some of the highest amounts of glyphosate, an agricultural herbicide that’s been proven to target and destroy good gut bacteria.
Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, including dairy, are also a potential hazard as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics and feed containing bioengineered ingredients such as GE corn.
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
Certain popular over-the-counter painkillers can damage cell membranes and harm healthy gut flora.
Stress affects your gut in a number of ways: fewer enzymes are produced and fewer nutrients are absorbed, your gut receives less oxygen, and your digestive system’s blood flow is reduced by about 4-fold.
Stress also alters your brain-gut connection (via the vagus nerve as I talked about earlier), and can adversely affect the functioning of your entire GI tract, including your gut flora.
It may come as a surprise to many, but scientists have discovered that air pollution affects intestinal flora. Airborne particulate matter from exhaust from cars, home furnaces, and industry, as well as livestock emissions travel from your lungs to your intestines, and can alter your gut bacteria and your intestinal barrier.
Another unsuspecting source of gut-harming pollution is diet. Particulate matter in the air contaminates our food and water supply, leading to further insult of your gut bacteria.
Taking One Baby Step at a Time…
Obviously, some things you have more control over than others. To avoid creating even more stress in your life, I recommend you start with the items you can control to help minimize the damage to your gut flora and good bacteria.
That includes avoiding unnecessary antibiotics, hidden antibiotics in factory-farmed meats and dairy, antibiotic soaps and dishwashing liquids, regular unfiltered tap water, sugar and sweetened drinks, gluten, bioengineered foods, packaged processed foods, and conventionally grown vegetables and fruits.
And of course, eat more foods with probiotics. When you add to your supply of good, friendly gut bacteria on a regular basis, you help keep the bad guys under control.
Note: If, for some reason, you cannot eat probiotic foods, then a high-quality probiotic supplement like Complete Probiotics is the best alternative.