Our digestive system is a complex collection of parts and processes that convert unprocessed fuel (our food) into its constituent parts so that it can be absorbed. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria and yeasts that live in our digestive tract — from our mouths…all the way through.
Our bodies need protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates, and these enter our body through the digestive process. These are living organisms that form a colony that live within us all. There is 10 times the amount of organisms in our digestive tract than all our bodies’ cells. That’s a big number.
The role of microscopic organisms
We live in symbiosis with these microscopic organisms. They help us break down food, better absorb protein and manufacture Vitamins B and K. They are hidden soldiers in our bodies working hard for us every day.
The balance of micro-organisms in our gut is a part of healthy living. When we are ill and take antibiotics, many people suffer diarrhea. This is because the medication wipes out all the bacteria in our bodies. It is necessary to stop a bacterial infection, but it often negatively affects our digestive system.
Doctors often prescribe probiotics, such as Interflora, when people take antibiotics. It is also important to take them at a different time than your medication so that they have a chance to enter your digestive system after the antibiotic has been absorbed.
The micro-organisms in our gut help us digest our food. For example, people who are lactose-intolerant can eat yogurt. Yogurt that contains live cultures (bacteria) has fermented lactose into lactic acid. This is a conversion to a different protein that is more easily digested.
Kimchi. kombucha tea, pickled gherkins, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh — fermented foods contain healthy bacterial colonies that help to keep our gut healthy too. Be sure to eat yogurt or cheeses with live cultures. Some yogurts do not contain live cultures, as they were destroyed in the production process.
How does the digestive system work?
From the moment you put food into your mouth, our body starts the process. We can’t swallow and easily digest whole food. Our teeth break it down. Remember your mom telling you to chew 32 times? Well, it’s true. Smoothies and the NutriBullet are so popular because they break down our food into easily drinkable and highly nutritious fuel.
When we chew food, our saliva glands are activated and lubricate our food. Enzymes are triggered, and the digestive process begins. Our tummies are a place where special acids and enzymes further break our food down. Along our lower gut are our intestines, and it is here that our friendly gut BFFs help us to absorb more nutrients and boost our health.
If you have an imbalance, you may not be absorbing as much as a person with a healthy balance of intestinal flora. Look out for foods with healthy flora or take medication. However, it’s a good idea not to overdo it. You may become bloated and suffer from gas as a result.
Good gut health promotes a healthy immune system, healthier skin and boosts our overall health.