* This is part of a year-long series called “52 Weeks to Eating better than Ever”. Click on the side bar for more information and to read the previous essays.
I recently had to have a tooth extraction, one which was dead from a sports injury which occurred years ago. As a result, my dentist prescribed an antibiotic to prevent infection of the surgical area. What was amazing to me was how many side effects I experienced because of this medication. I know it was more than likely necessary, in the case of a major oral surgery, to take the antibiotic, but it wreaked havoc on my immune system. I’ll spare you the details but there were many!
The gut is populated by healthy bacteria which are instrumental in a strong immune system. A strong immune system is needed to fight off infectious diseases, things like cold viruses and the flu, as well as to control inflammation and repair injury, which has implications for things like cancer, heart disease, and other major diseases, as well as soft tissue injuries. When we kill the good bacteria, along with the bad, in the case of some antibiotics, it can weaken our digestive balance and immunity. I rarely get colds but had a nasty one because of taking this antibiotic.
The bottom line: Every system of the body is connected to another, and we need healthy bacteria to stay healthy and in balance. Eating foods which are high in probiotics can benefit us in many ways.
- Probiotics balance the levels of microorganisms in the intestines.
- They provide healthy bacteria to counter the “bad” bacteria.
- They help boost the immune system.
- They prevent and treat diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and treat the side effects of antibiotics.
- They may also help prevent certain types of cancers, ulcers, dental disease, allergies, and liver disease, as well as help your skin and mental state.
You may or may not want to use supplementation. Whether you do or not, try to increase probiotic foods in your diet. Here are some good options:
- Miso Soup
- Fermented Cheeses
- Sourdough Bread
- Buttermilk (traditional, not cultured)
- Pickles (without vinegar)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Prebiotics are helpful too, aiding the already present bacteria in your gut
- Onions, leeks, apples, bananas, oats, garlic, asparagus, wheat bran
- *Not Beer- unfortunately, the acid in beer prevents the growth of probiotics, a tragedy!
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Read next: Quietism