The digestive tract is home to more than 500 species of bacteria, comprising about 100 trillion bugs altogether. They are extremely important for our overall health. For example, they help digest food we eat, synthesize certain vitamins, as well as play an important role in immune defense. They also help us absorb nutrients from the food we eat.
There are ‘good’ bugs called probiotics, which we can constantly replenish. These probiotics also need nourishing food to help them grow. Prebiotics are the fibre-rich foods that probiotics feed and grow on.
Two of the main probiotic bacteria that reside in the digestive tract are Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. These can be taken in the form of supplements or included in the diet in the form of fermented foods.
In order to maintain colonization in the digestive tract, probiotics must be taken or eaten regularly. While general recommendations call for ingesting 1 to 25 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) daily, most store-bought probiotic yogurts contain about 1 billion CFUs per serving.
To get the maximum benefit from fermented foods, read the product labels and choose only those that contain “active, live cultures”, preferentially raw, and unpasteurized ingredients. Opt for organic products as they are not heat- treated after fermentation, so more of the good bacteria are present.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kefir can also be made at home, and it is a safe way to ensure that you are ingesting beneficial bacteria.
Milena Kaler is a is a qualified London Nutritionist, weight loss and digestive health specialist, trained in the principles of Functional Medicine. Milena sees patients with chronic health conditions, as well as clients looking for support to optimise their health. Some of the areas Milena can help with include: weight loss, digestive, hormonal, immune and skin health. Scientific and holistic in approach, Milena looks at all aspects of a client’s health. She embraces a systems-oriented approach aiming to get to the root cause of health and weight issues instead of simply focusing on the symptoms. Milena sees every person as an individual with different problems and different goals. She takes time to listen to her clients’ specific concerns to develop customised nutrition and lifestyle plans, based on laboratory test results. Having overcome her own chronic health and weight loss issues, Milena really understands how it is to feel overwhelmed by poor health and can relate to her clients when they first come to see her.