Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria and yeast that live in our intestinal tracts and help support not only good digestion and optimal absorption of nutrients but our overall health and well being. It sounds strange, but these single cell organisms affect us in ways we can hardly imagine and which modern science is now beginning to elucidate. Probiotics may help promote healthy mood, keep us from sniffling and sneezing, and bind toxins and heavy metals (like mercury) in order to better excrete these poisons. By the time we are adults, 3-4 lbs of our body weight is accounted for by these organisms alone! However, most of us in modern industrial society do not have an optimal mix of intestinal bacteria due to antibiotics, antacids, stress, lack of sleep, fast food, and hydrogenated oils, among other culprits.
Before refrigeration, people throughout the world ate fermented foods rich in probiotics on a daily basis. In contrast, our modern diet often lacks such foods (except yogurt, miso and kimchi, for instance). Some experts say we can make up for the dearth of dietary sources of probiotics by taking a daily supplement (in addition to eating fermented foods and a high fiber diet on a regular basis). There are reputable companies making probiotic supplements that are available for purchase at Whole Foods, Rainbow Grocery, and other health oriented stores. At GetzWell Pediatrics we carry pharmaceutical grade probiotic supplements manufactured by Klaire and Pharmax. We believe the universe in our bellies needs careful tending, just like a garden.
For more information and scientific references on probiotics go to the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine at the NIH: www.nccam.nih.gov.