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The consumption of Probiotics has become extremely popular today.   According to a 2012 NHIS interview, shows about 4 million (1.6%) U.S. adults in the past 30 days report the use of probiotics.   

 The word Probiotics in Latin means “For Life” dates back 10,000 years.  The art of fermentation of such products as beer, bread, wine, kefir, kumis, and cheese results from spontaneous discoveries.   In the 6th century BC, yogurt’s discovery results from fermented goat’s milk found within storage bags turning thick and tart.  The Greeks and Roman empires also report yogurt in their Mediterranean cuisine as far back as 800 BC.

Acknowledging the existence of Probiotics provides us with a deeper understanding of the functions of the Gut.  The human Gut consists of a complex community of bacteria, and other microscopic living things call the microbiome.    Everybody has a different microbiome specific to the individual, designed according to your particular diet (what you eat) and your genetic make-up.  These two factors determine what each of our respective individual microbiomes looks like within our Gut. There are more than 40 trillion bacterial cells in our body with the single purpose of protecting us throughout our lifetime from various pathogens. Evidence-based research indicates this complex community of gut bacteria protects us from becoming ill from foreign pathogens by working alongside and supporting our immune system.

 It is essential to recognize the gut microbiome and recognize the connection with the immune system.  There is an innate ability for the Gut to communicate with the immune cells through a complex signaling system.  The Gut bacterial microbiota controls the production and distribution of “White Blood Cells.”    Evidence-based research shows any disturbance or alteration in the gut bacterial microbiota will negatively affect our immune system and increase our susceptibility to infections.  Diet plays a vital role in the health and make-up of this complex Gut microbiota, which makes eating the right types of food essential.

Probiotics are certain types of friendly live microorganisms that help colonize the Gut with good microorganisms to establish beneficial gut microbiome health.  Probiotics are the results of the fermentation of various foods such as yogurt.   Probiotics come in multiple forms; however, the two most common popular forms are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.  These two probiotics are associated with providing health benefits to the gut microbiome.

Periodically, Prebiotics are mistaken for Probiotics. The two are quite different and are not the same.   Prebiotics are dietary fiber types found in vegetables and fruit when eaten, feeds the gut microbiome.  Prebiotics help gut bacteria produce or manufacture nutrients for your colon cells, leading to a healthier digestive system.  Examples are beans, peas, oats, bananas, garlic, leeks, and asparagus.

Good sources of probiotic foods are:

Yogurt (naturally contains good bacteria)

Fermented Foods: 

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha tea
  • Pickles (unpasteurized)
  • Pickled vegetables (unpasteurized)

Pasteurization: Pasteurization kills, literally destroys the good bacteria  (probiotics) derived from fermentation.  Please use caution when consuming all unpasteurized foods.  May want to consider receiving probiotics’ benefits from other unpasteurized sources such as yogurt/kefir and sauerkraut.    Always Consult your Primary Care Medical Team before consuming any unpasteurized items.

We are probing the vast world of Probiotics leading to the art of fermentation, bacteria, and immunity, which dates back to human history.  There is nothing new under the sun.