Probiotics 101

Organic mixed greens tossed with sauerkraut, bell peppers, cucumbers and topped with toasted, smoky tempeh croutons.

We are constantly bombarded with extreme diet fads and the newest unpronounceable super food, so it feels like a huge relief when we realize that traditional ways of eating, which have been around for centuries, are getting rediscovered.
Used as a simple preservation method by cultures around the globe, fermented foods have experienced a renaissance in the world of foodies and health enthusiasts for their unique taste and incredible health benefits.

So what exactly makes them so beneficial?
When we ferment cabbage into kraut or kimchi, milk into cheese, yogurt or kefir, soybeans into miso or tempeh and vegetables, fruits into pickles, we create lactic acid bacteria, which are more commonly referred to as probiotics. These โ€œgoodโ€ bacteria help us restore a healthy digestive system by replenishing beneficial bacteria in our gut that fight off the bad bacteria, boost our immune system and prevent inflammation, to name just a few benefits.

But before you run to the closest supermarket to buy every product with a โ€œprobioticโ€ claim on it, check out these tips on how to choose the right probiotic foods first:

  • Large food manufacturing practices, such as heat processing and pasteurization destroy the beneficial bacteria. Therefore, choose products from small-scale productions, which you can find at your local gourmet stores, farmers markets and Asian shops.

  • If they are not stored in the fridge, they are most likely pasteurized and lost their beneficial live organisms.

  • โ€œPickledโ€ doesnโ€™t mean it has been fermented. A fermented food should not contain vinegar or brine.

  • Buy organic, non-GMO. Look for fermented foods, which come from the best source possible. Your gut will thank you for it!

Besides our gut flora, did you know that we also have a skin flora?
If you think about the 100 million microbes that live on and in our body, it shouldnโ€™t be surprising that our largest organ of the body is dealing with its own set of bacteria, the good and the bad. Normally in a healthy, balanced state, our skin floraโ€™s โ€œarmyโ€ should be able to fight off bad microbes, but when our immune system is weakened, it can lead to inflammatory diseases, such as dermatitis, acne, rosacea and psoriasis, to name a few. 
 
Our digestive system and skin are very closely connected. When one system is out of balance, it usually is an indicator that the other area is affected as well. Therefore, the best approach for a healthy skin and gut is to provide your body with probiotics both internallyโ€”via supplementation or your dietโ€”as well as externally, with probiotic enriched skincare. Knowing the unlimited healing benefits of beneficial bacteria for our skinโ€™s health, it made perfect sense that certain skincare brands, such as my favourite Tata Harper, incorporate probiotics in their products.
By boosting the beneficial flora on the surface of the skin with probiotic extracts, you ensure that your protective barrier is intact and therefore strong enough to keep those inflammatory bacteria at bay. 

The bottom line is that our body is constantly exposed to millions of different bacteria on a daily basis and fortunately, most of the time we donโ€™t even realize when our army of good bacteria is fighting for our overall health. So letโ€™s not wait until an imbalance in our gut and skin flora are visible! Rather, letโ€™s support it with probiotic enriched foods, skincare and supplements. 
 
If you are not sure and overwhelmed with the choice of probiotic supplements out there, then check out this great review on the best supplements, done by Reviews.com. It is a website dedicated to conducting unbiased reviews across products and industries, with the goal of helping people make better informed decisions.
Here is the link: http://www.reviews.com/probiotic-supplement/