Thursday, February 9, 2012

Immunity & Probiotics

A block print of an Albatross I made for my dad, who loves Albatrosses.  
They survive pretty extreme conditions, just like those nice little bacteria in your belly!

Did you know that 80% of your immune system resides in your intestinal tract (or "gut" as my sometimes un-ladylike school refers to it)? Yes, it is true. This is why the food you eat matters so much to your health.

You are what you eat, they say. When you eat foods that encourage a healthy digestive flora, then your immune system stays strong, and can fight off illness more easily. When you eat foods that cause inflammation or can't be digested properly, then the bacteria in your gut is forced to fight these unwanted substances, and then your immunity is weakened, and you are susceptible to disease growth or other infections.

So let's talk about probiotics!!!! Probiotics help provide your body with the right amount of healthy bacteria.  They protect your body from other micro-organisms that cause disease, and also encourage the proper absorption of food.  Antibiotics, medication, chemotherapy, and lack of proper nutrition can throw the balance off and cause trouble.

Probiotic supplements are great, but they are short-term.  It is important to eat a diet that includes healthy, fermented foods, which will provide those healthy bacterias, as well as helping you digest your food.  Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, Kombucha (try GT's brand of this delicious drink from Whole Foods!), pickles, and tempeh all fall into this category.

All fermented foods sold at Whole Foods. From left to right: GT's Kombucha, 
Bubbie's Sauerkraut, and Sunjay Kimchee.

If you choose to take a probiotic supplement (which is a great idea), it's best to take on an empty stomach.  Maybe 15 minutes after you've broken your nighttime fast with a whole lot of water, and a little bit before you have breakfast.

If someone you know just told you that the stomach flu is going around, run home and take a probiotic.  It just might fend it off!

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