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Dr. Dubynsky’s Teachings

Probiotics

What are probiotics? Simple (perhaps) Are they the opposite of “antibiotics?”

Well, not exactly…. but. “pro..” and “anti…” are truly antagonistic terms. These terms mean for and against. Certain live organisms (bacteria) are damaged or killed by antibiotics. If you have a bacterial infection, antibiotics help your body to kill those bacteria. However, not all bacteria cause disease or are bad for you.  Our intestinal tract is loaded with important bacteria that not only help digestion but also are an important part of your immune system. Some studies even report that with a good balance of the good bacteria we will even get fewer colds.

DNA studies show that there are 100 times more DNA in our bodies than our own. What are these DNA entities? They are other living organisms living with us. Imagine we are a reef and the other DNA belongs to all the other living creatures that inhabit and sustain the reef.

Our health depends on the health and proper balance of the other “life that surrounds the (our) reef.”

I will explain what all this means. The gut is populated by many organisms (life forms) like bacteria and fungi. As with anything in life, a proper balance is healthy; an improper balance is not. Imagine your gut is like a lawn. If you want a beautiful lawn you need good seed (those are the probiotics), proper watering, fertilizing (prebiotics) and weed control. If you don’t put all those steps together you will have a lawn that has bare spots, weeds, and uneven growth. You don’t want that.

Your gut, like your lawn, needs care & maintenance. Anything that has a function needs care & maintenance. You do that with your lawn, your car, your stove, your heating system, etc. To date, few of us even heard of the idea that you need “maintenance” for your gut. But..YOU DO! You have only this one body; take good care of it. If I gave you a car and told you that it had to last you your entire lifetime I am certain you would do a lot more maintenance than you do now.

There are “good” and “bad” organisms in your gut. Without proper maintenance the bad bacteria overwhelm the good. The weeds overtake your lawn.

Sometimes what we eat promotes the growth and health of the bad actors instead of the good ones. Not only that, but the bad actors send chemical signals to you brain making you “crave” the simple starches and sugars that “fertilize” the weeds. Some studies indicate that one round of antibiotics kill a lot of your good germs and it takes 1-2 years for the gut to once again be a “pretty lawn.”

There are two general classes of the desirable bacteria in you gut; lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. There are food sources that contain these good bugs. Live culture yoghurt is a great source of probiotics. Foods that are fermented, like sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso soup, kefir (sour milk) sourdough bread, pickles and soft cheeses like Gouda, Cheddar and Mozzarella are good sources of probiotics. Even dark chocolate has some probiotics (No wonder I love that stuff!)

You can also buy probiotics in “dry” form like tablets & capsules.

The destruction of the good bacteria by antibiotics and unhealthy diet is a real threat to your health. That is another reason why I have been telling my patients and friends that we should not jump to antibiotics for no good reason like you get at the ED or Urgent Care places.

Now you know about the importance of proper gut bacteria, the high-quality seeds that you bought for your lawn.

BUT… The story does not end there. Remember, I said after the seeding you must also water & fertilize. For that you need PREBIOTICS. That is another chapter.

Consume some fermented foods regularly to keep the good bacteria replenished.

Any time you use an antibiotic, I recommend you supplement with pro and prebiotics after your treatment is over.

More on PREBIOTICS in a separate article.