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probiotics, cold and flu, immunity, charlotte naturopathic doctor

Probiotics can help keep you healthy this cold and flu season

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are good bacteria that line your gut and are responsible for nutrient absorption and supporting your immune system. If you can increase the amount of good bacteria and balance microorganisms in your body, it can have tremendous health benefits, including boosting your immunity, balancing hormones, detoxifying your liver, helping clear up your skin, and decreasing inflammation, to name a few. This “friendly” bacteria makes up 70-85% of our immune systems.

Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that are responsible for a number of things in the body. Probiotics help break down food as well as extract minerals from those foods. Probiotics assist our bodies in producing essential fatty acids and vitamins. These helpful bacteria are also known to eat excess sugar in the body, reducing health risks associated with sugar intake such as inflammation.

If you don’t have enough good bacteria in your gut, the side effects can include: digestive disorders, skin issues, candida, autoimmune disease, and frequent colds and flus.

Every time you take a round of antibiotics, it throws off your gut flora and can affect digestion and many aspects of your health for many months. This is why it is important to limit the number of antibiotics you take to only when completely necessary. You should instead try to boost your immune system to fight off illnesses. Many people go to their doctor every time they are sick and receive antibiotics for viral infections or minor illnesses, when in fact, antibiotics do not help rid viruses.

In addition to excessive antibiotic use, other reasons that the microflora in our systems become unbalanced are eating foods with added hormones and preservatives, exposure to fertilizers and pesticides, carbonated beverages, steroids and even stress. For this reason, it is very important to sustain a healthy amount of good bacteria in your system by eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

How to incorporate probiotics

The best way to ensure you are getting a healthy amount of probiotics in your system is to incorporate probiotic-rich foods into your daily diet as well as taking a daily probiotic supplement. The following foods are high in probiotics; sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kombucha, and apple cider vinegar (as salad dressing). Getting good, high-quality fiber in your diet can also enhance the development of good bacteria in your body.

When choosing a daily probiotic supplement, you should purchase a high quality, reputable brand that has at least 15 billion CFU (colony forming units) per serving. It should have multiple strains and some high quality brands require refrigeration (once the probiotics touch the air or are heated, they lose their potency). It is however, important to choose a probiotic that is shelf stable as refrigeration may be compromised during transport. The Not Just Weight by Dr. Parkes brand offers a superior probiotic product that is individually packaged to encourage freshness and preserve quality.

Tip: Probiotic-rich food recipes

Simple sauerkraut

Ingredients
1 medium head of cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1.5 tablespoons of kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Clean everything: When fermenting anything, it’s best to give the good, beneficial bacteria every chance of succeeding by starting off with as clean an environment as possible. Make sure your mason jar (2 qt wide mouth) and jelly jar (smaller jar that fits inside of the 2 qt jar) are washed and rinsed of all soap residue. Make sure to wash your hands, too.
  2. Thinly slice and chop cabbage.
  3. Combine the cabbage and salt: Transfer the cabbage to a big mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over top. Begin working the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes (there should be a significant amount of liquid formed).
  4. Pack the cabbage into the large mason jar. Every so often, push down the cabbage in the jar with your fist. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage into the jar.
  5. Once all the cabbage is packed into the mason jar, slip the smaller jelly jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with clean stones or marbles. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down (the cabbage needs to be fully submerged in the liquid).
  6. Cover the mouth of the mason jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but prevents anything from getting into the jar.
  7. Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the jelly jar. As the cabbage releases its liquid, it will become more limp and compact and the liquid will rise over the top of the cabbage.
  8. If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage.
  9. Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days: As it’s fermenting, keep the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is not fully submerged by liquid.
  10. Start tasting your sauerkraut after 3 days, when the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap, and refrigerate.
  11. While it’s fermenting, you may see bubbles coming through the cabbage, foam on the top, or white scum. These are all signs of a healthy, happy fermentation process. The scum can be skimmed off the top either during fermentation or before refrigerating. If you see any mold, skim it off immediately and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged; don’t eat moldy parts close to the surface, but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.
  12. This sauerkraut will keep for at least two months and often longer if kept refrigerated.

Reference:
https:// draxe.com/boost-immunity-with-probiotics/
https:// draxe.com/probiotics-a-pro-or-con-for-your-health/
https:// draxe.com/what-are-probiotics/
http:// www.everydayhealth.com/cold-and-flu/probiotics-for-flu-prevention.aspx
http:// www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/do-probiotics-reduce-cold-and-flu-risk/
http:// www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/research-confirms-probiotics-support-immune-system/
http:// www.prescript-assist.com/intestinal-health/immune-system-probiotics/

Recipe Reference:
http:// www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-homemade-sauerkraut-in-a-mason-jar-193124

Healthy Food

Happy Gut, Healthy Body

The foundation of good health starts with a healthy, happy digestive system.

The gut is where many of the most important processes happen in the body such as eliminating toxins, absorbing nutrients, filtering out viruses and bacteria, and supporting the immune system. When our gut is in optimal shape, our body tends to be healthier overall.

Below are five areas everyone can address in order to help improve their gut function. However, keep in mind that each of us has an individual picture of health. That’s why it is always a good idea to talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about your own digestive wellness.

Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that occur naturally in the body. They help break down food, aid in digestion, make nutrients more available, and fight against the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria. The use of medications, antibiotics, and stress all compromise levels of beneficial bacteria, making it harder for them to do their job. Many of us need daily supplementation with a high quality probiotic. Naturopathic Doctors are experts in knowing what brands, strains and doses are appropriate for individuals. Also, help feed good bacteria with soluble fiber and fermented foods.

Food Sensitivities

One thing to eliminate from your diet to immediately improve your gut health are foods to which you have allergies and sensitivities. Symptoms of food sensitivities are not always as obvious as you would think — such as producing hives, inflammation, difficulty breathing or rashes. Those symptoms and allergic reactions deal with a different part of the immune system. Food sensitivities are foods that you might eat on a regular basis that your body has developed intolerance for. If the problem is left untreated, your body can become over-reactive to many kinds of foods, even some you don’t eat regularly. Your Naturopathic Doctor can test you for food sensitivities so that you can eliminate them from your diet.

Elimination

One of the most critical parts of a healthy gut is good elimination. Naturopathic Doctors can tell quite a bit about your overall state of health by the number of bowel movements you have a day as well as the quality. Fiber will help with elimination, as does movement in the form of exercise and stretching. It is important to have the right balance in the time between when you eat and when you have a bowel movement. If you are constipated, it means that toxins and body waste are sitting in your intestines. You run the risk of reabsorbing some of these toxins. If your transit time between when you eat and when you have a bowel movement is too quick, your body doesn’t have time to absorb the nutrition from your food.

Hydration

An important aspect to elimination and a healthy gut is proper hydration. We need water to flush toxins, absorb nutrients, and help the body from becoming constipated. Staying hydrated throughout the day is more beneficial to your body than drinking several glasses of water all at once. While flavored beverages can be appealing, added sugars, caffeine, dyes, and other chemicals can reverse any positive effects. Water is necessary and vital, so make sure to get enough pure, clean water in your diet.

Stress Reduction

Our gut is often thought of as our emotional center. In truth; stress, anger and anxiety can have a negative impact on our gut health. It is important to be mindful of the amount of stress you have in your life. Conscious breath, or taking deep refreshing breaths several times during the day can help release any stored up tension in your gut. If you find yourself storing stress, try taking a walk outside, phone a friend, or listen to music that soothes you.