What are the signs that probiotics are working? How can you tell when a healthy mix of gut bacteria has your body tuned up and purring?
First of all, a major sign of a healthy gut is that you don’t have much to notice. According to a medically-reviewed article in Everyday Health, when the gut is healthy, “daily bowel movements should be free of symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, and loose stools. Other signs of a healthy gut include being free of rectal symptoms like hemorrhoids and abdominal symptoms such as painful gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.”
In other words, the gut just works.
“With a healthy functioning digestive system, you’re not reactive to foods or external symptoms like stress and environmental factors,” says Rosia Parrish, a naturopath in Boulder, Colorado. “You also have less susceptibility to conditions such as skin disorders, autoimmune conditions, inflammatory responses.”
Which means that if you notice signs of digestive pathology, watch out for other conditions that may result. Recent research has linked an unhealthy microbiome to stomach discomfort, fatigue, food cravings, obesity, skin irritations, allergies, autoimmune conditions, mood issues, and migraines.
To begin the journey towards a healthy microbiome, eating fermented foods containing live cultures of health-promoting microbes like the sauerkraut, kimchi, and other products from wildbrine, starts the process. These foods contain the very microbes that are a powerful driver of good health through the human body.
Since the microbiome consists of from two to four pounds of microorganisms that live primarily in the cecum — part of the large intestine — it’s easy to check our gut health by keeping tabs on our bowel movements. Here’s a rundown on what to look for:
Personally, I have noticed several of the signs that probiotics are working to achieve homeostasis in my own body. Homeostasis is that point of delicate balance when the body’s functions perform well and disease is held in check. One becomes less aware that something is wrong and more aware that everything is working well. It’s a good feeling, and ascribable to a host of benefits that arise when the mix of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the microbiome have established a good ecology.
When this ecology is established in the gut, its benefits spread throughout the body, enhancing the performance of the immune system, reaching through the vagus nerve to calm the mind and improve the mood, and even suppressing disease-causing imbalances of microbes in the mouth. For many years I had problems with dental caries, but when I started eating the probiotic foods that wildbrine prepares (I’m a big fan), I noticed that my semi-annual check-ups always gave my teeth a clean bill of health. The oral microbiome is connected to the gut microbiome through the digestive system. It appears that when eating fermented foods helps establish a healthy gut microbiome, the oral environment is also affected. As the National Library of Medicine states, “The oral microbiome is crucial to health as it can cause both oral and systemic diseases. It… forms an ecosystem that maintains health in a state of equilibrium.”
A word of caution: Antibiotics act like a bomb dropped on the microbiome, killing off the good microbes as well as the pathogens. And yet, sometimes antibiotics are necessary as prescribed by your doctor. If so, make sure you eat a good portion of probiotic foods every day, as well as a glass of kefir or probiotic-rich yogurt (preferably without sugar) in the morning. Even though the antibiotics are killing off your microbiome, you are replenishing it, which should help alleviate some of the ill effects of antibiotic use.
About the Author: Sonoma County resident Jeff Cox is the author of 24 books, including The Essential Book of Fermentation (Avery, 2013)
Comments are closed.