Written by Josh Gitalis. Read Josh’s bio here.
There is more bacteria in and on our body, than human cells. We are outnumbered ten to one. You might even say that we are more bacteria than human. The implications of this are becoming more and more evident. Bacteria influence our health in hundreds of ways. Everyday there are new discoveries on how these microorganisms interact with human physiology.
The benefits of consuming probiotics (“pro” meaning “for”, “biotic” meaning “life”) are truly abundant. However, the cultured foods that are available are usually of the lowest quality and advertised to consumers through clever marketing. An example of one of these products is Activia yoghurt by Danone.
Activia uses a strain of bacteria known as Bifidobacterium Animalis (B. animalis) which they sometimes label as Bifidus Regularis (more on this in a moment). Just to give you a bit of background, bacteria species that are normally found in humans are not found in animals and visa versa. B. animalis (as the nomenclature suggests) comes from animals.It is found in the feces of rats, chickens, rabbits, calfs, and in sewage. You read that right- the bacteria culture in Activia yogurt is derived from poop.
Why do they add this particular strain to their yogurt?
This strain helps humans to be more regular- temporarily. This is why their marketing ploy involves suggesting you take on the “Activia challenge”- consuming their product for 14 days to see if it helps get your digestive system “back on track”, or your money back.
Here’s the BIG catch, once you stop eating Activia, your digestion goes right back to the way it was. The reason is that since B. animalis is not a resident of the human digestive tract, as a result it eventually gets eliminated. In addition, it displaces the resident probiotics that should be taking up residence in your gut. This means that yes, Activia might make you more regular while you eat it, but might actually cause more digestive challenges when you stop. Sounds a lot like pharmaceuticals- treating the symptom, not the cause.
Probitoics, the kind that body can actually utilize have major benefits.
Some Benefits of Probiotics:
- Regulate the immune system
- Prevent diarrhea and constipation
- Decrease Inflammation
- Reverse Allergies
- Treat/prevent yeast infections
- Promote strong bones
- Prevent cancer
- Relieve acid reflux
Most indigenous cultures consume at least one fermented and/or cultured food. And chances are our great grandparents included cultured food as well.
What is a better option to getting the kind of probiotics into our diet that will actually stick around and help rebalance our gut flora?
Nowadays most people don’t even know what a fermented/cultured food is. You might want to try a top quality probiotic supplement or some amazingly delicious naturally fermented foods including:
These foods inoculate our digestive tracts with good bacteria (probiotics).
Question of the Day: What are your favourite digestive friendly health tips? Share below!