Probiotics and Prebiotics

podcast of March 24
I bet most of you didn’t know that your own personal gut flora is just that! or that you have 10 times more of these friendly bacteria than you do cells in your entire body? Each of us has a unique to us collection of colonies in our intestinal system.

You may have heard of the gut/brain connection – a happy gut makes for a happy brain. And vice versa. The walls of your entire digestive system are lined with neurons (nerve cells) that communicate with your brain – scientists have dubbed this the enteric nervous system. The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum.
The ENS may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people coping with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. It’s been thought for years that anxiety & depression contribute to gut problems, but researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger these mood changes.
So, listening to your gut could well be a very good idea.

Probiotics

have been in use for centuries, and quite likely thousands of years.

We can assist our gut populations to do their jobs by eating a good quality yoghurt 3-5 times a week. Look for your yoghurt to contain only milk and live cultures – typically store bought and some homemade yoghurts will contain lactobacillus, acidophilus, caesii, bifido cultures, but there are, as I discovered, many many cultures available if you want to venture into making your own from scratch.

Yoghurt can be made using coconut, soy, almond, oat, or rice milks.
Cultures can be purchased online, in Dunedin Taste Nature in High St might be able to help you out.

All those other additives are not necessary, if you want to flavour it, add maple syrup or honey and some stewed fruit. If you need to disguise it, why not make a smoothie?  – while you’re at it pop in some cacao powder!

Yoghurt contains vitamins and minerals, notably Vitamins A, D, B2, B5 and B12, Minerals Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Iodine and Zinc,  and is a good source of protein. The live cultures will aid the absorption of these vitamins and minerals.

Yoghurt Face Mask

Blend 4 T yoghurt with 1 T cocoa/cacao powder and 1 T honey.

Apply to your face for 20 minutes, then wash with lukewarm water, and voila –  radiant skin.

Probably best to try this in the bath 🙂

Yoghurt is also awesome for nappy rash

Those of you with lactose intolerance can perhaps digest yoghurt – the fermentation process converts the lactose to lactic acid.

 Kefir!

And what might that be, you ask? It is a fermented milk drink.  That it is a fermented beverage means it is pro-biotic – it directly supports your gut flora.
Kefir grains are a combination of lactic acid bacteria, and beneficial yeasts,  in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars – this symbiotic matrix, called a Scoby, forms “grains” that look a bit like cauliflower.

Kefir, like yoghurt,  has great benefit for out digestive, nervous and immune systems. It contains the amino acid Trytophan, which has a relaxing effect on the nervous system. It also contains the minerals Calcium and Magnesium which nourish the nervous system. It supplies partially digested proteins, making it easier for our bodies to absorb them.
Kefir can be made from any type of milk – cow, goat or sheep, coconut, almond, rice or soy. It is prepared in the same way you do yoghurt, by heating the milk, and ‘inoculating’ it with the grains, which are strained out before drinking it. Drinking Kefir will create ideal conditions in the digestive tract for the colonization of friendly bacteria.

Kefir and yoghurt are not the only fermented food around – sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh are a few more. There is also a water kefir, or tibicos. These will all aid your gut’s populations of bacteria.

 Prebiotics

these are foods that we eat to support the cultures in our intestinal systems – they are   foods containing Inulin,  oligofructose, and pectin, all are indigestible, your body uses these indigestible fibers as a ‘home’ for its biota.

Apples contain pectin – this is concentrated near the core, so eat as much of the apple as you can.  Slippery elm, bananas, raw and cooked onion, raw garlic, raw jerusalem artichokes, raw chicory, raw asparagus, raw dandelion greens, all contain these fibers.

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