Probiotic Milk and Fermented Foods for Better Digestion
People are spending a fortune at the health food store on supplements and organic food, and it’s for a good reason. Your body needs all the nutrients it can get for optimal wellness. Supplements can help with everything from sleeping to boosting your immunity, and they are even more important when you are ill or pregnant. However, your money will be wasted if your body cannot adequately process the nutritious food you are consuming. If your digestive system is poorly functioning, few vitamins and minerals will be absorbed. To reap the benefits of your food, you need to ensure your digestion is functioning properly. It provides your body with the energy it needs to survive. Insufficiently absorbing nutrients from your food can lead to serious complications. It can cause many illnesses and sends your body into stress mode. However, simple food items like probiotic milk and other fermented foods can kick start your digestive system and give your body the tools it needs for maximum nutrient absorption.
How Important Is the Digestive Tract?
For life to exist, it must receive external water, energy, and nutrients. Without it, we just wouldn’t survive. Our hair, nails, skin, body structure, strength, weight, and overall health rely on the food we eat. For humans and animals, the digestive system is the most important part of the body. It is how we metabolize our food into nutrients that feed our cells. Food is the driving force that gives us the energy to talk, move, think, grow and reproduce. The human species would not have survived without food and digestive systems.
Our digestive system is what is known as “a complete gut”. Everything from the mouth to the anus, including the esophagus, stomach, and intestines makes up this system. 90% of what we eat is absorbed through the intestines and goes back into our bodies. It is the digestive system’s responsibility to process the food into small particles that are easily transportable.
Why Try Fermented Foods?
Unfortunately, over the past few decades changes in technology and food preparation have made processed foods the norm. Cultures all over the world have been eating fermented foods for hundreds of years. In fact, fermented foods originated as a way to preserve the harvest of summer well into the winter, before things such as refrigeration and freezers even existed. Sauerkrauts, kombuchas, probiotic milk, and yogurt are all types of fermented foods.
These foods have been through what is called lacto-fermentation, a process in which natural bacteria feed on the food’s sugars and starches creating lactic acid. This not only preserves the food, it also creates various strains of probiotics, enzymes, b-vitamins, omega 3s, and breaks the food down into a very digestible format. These three elements explain why fermented foods such as probiotic milk improve digestion, as well as help slow and reverse some diseases. Recent studies have even linked safer pregnancies and improved immunity with fermented foods.
Why Choose Probiotic Milk?
The number of probiotics and enzymes have drastically declined in our food sources over time, but research is strongly indicating we need a reversal in this trend. Many healthy foods like probiotic milk, yogurts, and kombucha, have been reintroduced on the market and are gaining much publicity with their health benefits.
Fermented dairy products like probiotic milk have become one of the most common and best sources of probiotics. In most instances, probiotics are added to the milk before the fermentation process. The World Health Organization recognizes that healthcare professionals are now advocating probiotic milk for children, pregnant women, and high-risk populations.
Pregnancy and Probiotic Milk
Women who drink probiotic milk during pregnancy may have a lower risk of some severe pregnancy complications like preterm birth and preeclampsia. Research is still being conducted, but results from the 70,149 births that were included in a recent study were positive. The women were instructed to drink 2 glasses of probiotic milk per day. They then answered questions regarding their consumption prior to and at various times throughout pregnancy. The results included the following:
- There is a link between drinking probiotic milk during early pregnancy and lowering the risk of preterm deliveries between 34-36 weeks.
- Probiotic milk consumption during the early part of pregnancy was also linked with a lower risk of spontaneous preterm delivery. Spontaneous births occur when labor begins prematurely from the water breaking or the cervix opening prematurely with no contractions.
- The risk of preeclampsia in late pregnancy was also lowered by drinking probiotic milk.
Additional testing is needed, but probiotics may be a good way to help reduce preeclampsia, preterm delivery, and other adverse pregnancy ailments.
Probiotics and Adrenal Health
The live bacteria and yeast from the probiotics that are so invaluable for good digestion and pregnancy have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, enhance energy levels, and even aid weight loss. All good news for those who suffer from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
Diet is an extremely important part of the AFS recovery process, and probiotics are an essential aspect. The digestive system is vulnerable to stress like the rest of the body. People who have spent years suffering from adrenal fatigue will most likely have a compromised digestive system that needs more than basic nutritional supplementation. Gut health is the number one priority for AFS sufferers. Measures should be taken to ensure fermented foods are a part of your AFS diet for many reasons including:
- Supplementation with probiotics can reduce many stress-induced gastrointestinal issues including IBS and constipation.
- Anxiety and stress affect the way our food is processed and can create major digestive issues.
- When you are stressed, food is unable to pass smoothly through the digestive tract. This leaves an abundance of undigested food particles that can lead to issues such as constipation or dysbiosis.
- When probiotics are consumed, reduced cortisol levels have been recorded, indicating a connection between the gut and stress hormones.
Improved Weight Loss
Many people suffer from weight loss issues with underlying causes like thyroid issues or adrenal fatigue. The use of probiotics has shown promising effects in these areas as well. It is not yet known exactly why probiotics are helpful in weight loss, but it is presumed that through improving nutrient absorption, fewer calories are required. When participants were given probiotic milk to drink for 12 weeks, a 4.6% reduction in body fat was recorded, as well as a reduction in the hip and waist measurements.
Probiotics, Immune System, and Overall Wellness
A weakened immune system hinders your body’s ability to fight off infection. Because probiotics aid in digestion and in the breaking down of food, it also increases the absorption of antioxidants. The healthier your food source, the more antioxidants you will receive.
Even taking probiotics for a short period of time can increase the assimilation of nutrients from our food. They are the number one method that should be used to regain balance in the gut and digestive tract. There is a significant link between fermented foods such as probiotic milk and overall health.
It is important to become educated on the variety of strains of probiotics as all of them could have different effects on your body. It will pay off to do your research and find the product which is right for you.
Probiotic milk is an easy and absorbable way to get your daily probiotics. However, with the sensitivity that many sufferers of AFS develop in the gut, consuming dairy may be difficult. If this is the case, there are many options for fermented foods to choose from. There are very few side effects of taking probiotics, but it is always best to speak with your healthcare practitioner prior to beginning any new food regimen.
The body should be looked at in a comprehensive manner, not one organ at a time, but all the systems together in an interrelationship with one another. Using a NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response model, you can see just how your digestive system is related to every system in your body. Stress can deregulate the metabolic system and cause unhealthy amounts of bacteria from the gut to enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation, the root cause of many chronic illnesses. When the body is unbalanced, it secretes excess hormones, the detox system becomes overburdened, and mental health issues can follow.
Keeping the gut healthy can prevent a chain of events that leaves the body feeling weak and inoperable. A healthy digestive system and a good diet with all the proper nutrients will provide your body with the tools it needs to function at its best.
How to Get More Probiotics
Chances are, you probably are not getting enough probiotics in your food. Here are some great probiotic foods that can ensure your gut is operating at its best:
- Kefir – a fermented probiotic dairy product made with milk and kefir grains that was introduced over 3000 years ago and contains 10-34 strains of probiotics.
- Fermented Vegetables – sauerkraut and kimchi are examples of food that are high in enzymes and support the growth of good bacteria.
- Kombucha – a fermented black tea concoction that has a been consumed for over 2,000 years and originated in Japan.
- Yogurt – probably the most popular probiotic food made from the milk of cows, goats, or sheep.
- Apple cider vinegar – you can drink a small cup of this daily mixed with water and honey for its probiotic elements as well as controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Pickles – made without heating or vinegar, these are a favorite fermented treat.
- Olives – brine-cured olives are a great source of probiotics.
- Tempeh – a fermented soybean product from Indonesia.
- Miso – a traditional fermented soybean paste from Japan often used in soup.
© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
Is drinking probiotic milk part of the AFS diet?
There are many reasons why probiotic milk is recommended for AFS sufferers. Fermented foods help regulate the digestive system allowing the body to absorb a maximum amount of nutrients and improve the regulation of inflammation, weight loss, and many other functions.