Some health experts call it the second brain. When we react instinctively to something, we call it a “gut reaction”. When we can’t explain it, we refer to a “gut feeling”. Our “guts” or gastrointestinal system is incredibly complicated, and is intricately connected to every other part of the body.
In an iridology session, the first place I look in the eye is at the autonomic nerve wreath, showing the health and level of toxins in the colon. Toxins in the colon can contribute to ailments that are seemingly unrelated; such as asthma, sinus infections, skin problems, depression, hormone imbalances and food sensitivities.
Most people understand that cleansing can be helpful to get rid of these toxins. What can be done to keep the environment in the intestinal system clean and working properly after you are finished cleansing? One of the answers is probiotics (‘bios’ is Latin for ‘life’, ‘antibiotic’ = kills life, ‘probiotic’ = ‘for life’).
The average probiotic capsule is filled with millions or even billions of active bacteria. These are the so-called friendly bacteria that are supposed to be living in our bodies. A healthy adult has between three and six pounds of bacteria that they are carrying around with them every day! Because of this, the word acidophilus has made its way into the common lexicon, with many yogurts or other dairy products announcing how much they contain.
Acidophilus is an incredibly generic term however. There are hundreds of species of bacteria that can be found in the body, and dozens that it can be useful to supplement with. A good probiotic supplement is going to provide a range of strains in a proportion that can be optimized by the body. When the body has enough good bacteria present, it is harder for the nasty organisms like yeast or food pathogens to latch on, instead the body is able to defend itself and get rid of them rather quickly.
Good bacteria create B-vitamins, which are needed to help the adrenal glands deal with stress effectively. B vitamins are important to the immune system, production of hemoglobin, energy, nerve health and pretty much anything else you can think of, really. It is also needed for proper synthesis of vitamin K which we get from leafy green vegetables. Vitamin K helps blood clot properly. Research on bone health and osteoporosis suggests that taking all the calcium in the world is not going to help you if the vitamin K is not present.
Probiotics are indicated for all bowel conditions as well. This includes Crohns, colitis and the all encompassing IBS – a collection of symptoms that mean that modern medicine has no way to help you and can’t find a cause for it in the first place.
Many supplements also include FOS which stands for fructo-olgliosaccarides. These are classified as pre-biotics; special sugars that feed the good bacteria and help it get established in the body. FOS is usually derived from chicory root.
Talking about intestinal bacteria does tend to make people a little squirmy. I’m fine with it when I talk about it scientifically, but I have to admit that when the kids ask me for “good tummy bugs” I get squeamish! I really believe in an individualized approach to supplements, that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That being said, probiotics should be in everyone’s fridge.