Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton
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Foodborne Illness on the Rise Means It’s Time for Probiotics
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) Chipotle Mexican Grill, a national chain of eateries favored for their healthy image, is in the spotlight again. But this time it’s for making their patrons sick with E. coli across several states. What was the culprit? After weeks of investigation, authorities still have no answers, primarily because each of the restaurant’s specialties contains a myriad of ingredients, sourced from many suppliers. In fact, the complexity of most restaurant and take-out operations has led to an increase in such outbreaks and difficulty identifying their sources. All this means it’s time for probiotics, the best defense against food poisoning and foodborne illness.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that live in the human gut and are essential to good health, particularly the health of the digestive tract. Probiotics live in symbiosis with us under an evolutionary deal that was struck eons ago. In this deal we give them a nice home in our intestinal tract and in return, they defend that home by getting rid of threatening pathogens and other debris. Friendly bacteria actually form 80% of the immune system – they are that important to health. And yes, probiotics can kill off foodborne pathogens and keep us safe from food poisoning, but only if we have them in plentiful supply.
What can go wrong with a plentiful supply of probiotics? Antibiotics pose the biggest threat to probiotics, because they kill indiscriminately, wiping out the good with the bad. Other threats include eating foods treated with pesticides, drinking chlorinated water, breathing polluted air, and using antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer. People affected by these threats are the most likely to contract food poisoning or foodborne illness.
14 million Americans contract foodborne illnesses every year – don’t be one of them
Over 200 diseases can be transmitted through food, with salmonella being one of the most common. People with low or no friendly microorganisms in their intestinal tract have absolutely no defense against them, and the resulting disease is no fun. Here are the symptoms of foodborne illnesses:
Depending on the kind of pathogens encountered, symptoms can start anywhere from 30 minutes after eating contaminated food to 48 hours later. The best way to avoid pathogens is not to fixate over your food, but instead strengthen your immunity by making sure your herd of probiotics is up to full strength.
How to strengthen your probiotic defense
*Although some yogurt makers like to advertise their products as restoring friendly bacteria, yogurt is not effective at recolonizing the gut. The best way to do that job is by drinking kefir, a creamy drinkable yogurt-style fermented milk that tastes like a yogurt smoothie. Make it at home with a starter kit gotten online, or buy it ready-to-drink in many grocery stores. Kefir is amazingly high in nutrition, and it can be used by the lactose intolerant. Kefir can be made with water or vegetarian milks such as almond milk. If you have taken antibiotics, it is essential to your health to recolonize your intestinal tract so your immune system can be fully functional.
*Taking probiotic supplements can at least partially recolonize too, and they are helpful when away from home. Look for those with a broad spectrum of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.
*Make fermented foods, such as cultured vegetables. The most common of them is sauerkraut, but almost any vegetable can be fermented.
*Feed your friendly bacteria what they crave, which is lots of fiber and a bit of natural sugar. Be sure to include these foods in your diet regularly: apple, banana, asparagus, onion, garlic, cabbage, beans, legumes, bran, artichokes, leeks and root vegetables
*Stop eating anything made with processed white flour. Such products can congest and be toxic to beneficial bacteria.
*Combine foods using established principles. This will make meals much more easily digested and create an environment less hospitable to pathogens.
All of these suggestions apply to children as well as adults. Research has shown that autism, ADHD and behavior problems can be greatly helped by regular use of probiotics. In addition, children who regularly take probiotics miss much less school because of illness.
Scientists at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital have reported that probiotics ameliorate inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract in children, including chronic disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease. With ulcerative colitis, several probiotic formulas have been effective as adjuvant therapy, for the maintaining of remission.
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