Jessica Cooper
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Why a Healthy Gut Is So Important

These days almost everyone has heard about probiotics.  Most people know that consuming probiotics is good for you and can help digestion.  But, what most people don't realize is the enormous role probiotics can have in maintaining and improving overall health and preventing disease.   The latest scientific research into human health is painting a very clear picture of just how important it is to maintain a healthy gut (intestinal tract) in order to stay trim, healthy and keep a strong immune system.


Having excellent gut health is the newest revelation in the scientific understanding of human biology and how our immune system works.   Gut health is now known to be essential to fighting and preventing illness, maintaining a healthy weight, energy levels, healthy digestion and even brain function.


Taking probiotics regularly is the best way to help build up your immune system and cleanse your body.  So let's break down what exactly probiotics are.   Essentially, probiotics are live bacteria.  You are probably thinking, 'that sounds really gross - why would I want to eat that!?'  Well the fact is that our body is full of billions of different strains of live bacteria naturally, and are essential in keeping our systems functioning.  Like everything else in the world, there is the good kind and the bad kind bacteria.   You need a good balance in order for your gut to function well, and your immune system to do it's job of fighting illness.  


If you think of the term, anti-biotics then you probably know it's what can be prescribed to you if you get diagnosed with a bacteria infection of some kind.  You might also know that anti-biotics basically kill off all bacteria, good and bad.  After taking anti-biotics your body is not left with much in the way of good bacteria to fight off future infections.   Modern eating trends, environmental factors like pollution and overuse of antibiotics are all factors that reduce beneficial bacteria in your gut which can lead to an increase in many different kinds of chronic diseases like diabetes.


It's All About Probiotics

So how do you go about getting more probiotics in your diet?  No need to get crazy with juice detox diets

anymore when you can do something as simple as eating a pickle or drinking a glass of kefir.  


There are a number of foods, some that may surprise you, that contain a good amount of healthy bacteria or probiotics.  Probiotics rich foods are becoming the new kale for nutrition and diet enthusiasts.  There are many different strains of good bacteria that exist in various foods.  Some of the best foods rich in probiotics to add to your diet include:


- yogurt, kefir, pickles or any kind of pickled vegetables, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, miso soup, soy sauce, buttermilk, some aged cheeses and olives.


If you are not that excited by foods that contain probiotics, you can just as easily take a supplement.


Let's Talk Weight Loss

Another reason to love probiotics.  The latest scientific research shows that the type of microorganisms and bacteria in your intestines can be a major influence in determining whether you are overweight or not.


There is also growing scientific evidence to support the idea that poor gut health is a major reason for weight gain and diseases associated with obesity.  In recent years many people are taking a more holistic approach to health which means working towards preventing illnesses before they happen by way of better nutrition.   Many nutritionists and doctors now hold a general consensus  that processed foods are a big reason for the increase in people with obesity related diseases like diabetes and heart disease.   Processed foods often contain chemicals and sugars that kill off good bacteria in your gut and encourage the growth of bad bacteria.  The simplest way to think of good gut health is to work towards maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut - the ratio to aim for is roughly 80% good bacteria to 20% bad bacteria.


Since it's hard to determine exactly what each individual persons gut health looks like, the number one thing you can do is increase your intake of probiotics (good bacteria).  Probiotics are by no means a cure all for gut health but they certainly can make a huge difference.  Other ways to improve gut health and overall health is to decrease the amount of processed and sugary foods you eat (especially soda!  Diet soda is bad too) and try to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet.


The most effective way to ensure you get the right amount and best strains of probiotics is to take a supplement.  It's important to do your homework when deciding on what supplements to take since like all vitamin manufacturers, some are a lot better than others. 


So, do your gut a favor and get some yogurt into your daily diet, maybe some sourdough toast for breakfast, or even just get into snacking on pickles and olives.   Little changes can make a big difference!

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