The Probiotics Gold Mine

By | July 15, 2016

Yogurt, a great source of probiotics, is a boon to health because it helps establish healthy intestinal flora, right? The same is true of kombucha and other cultured foods, isn’t it? And how about probiotic capsules with billions of live cultures and dozens of strains?

This is what the food industry would have us believe, as they profit tremendously from this long-standing and mushrooming health fad. They want us to continually consume these products, thinking that they are essential to our health, or at least an important contributor. It turns out that there are two holes in their treasure ship, and either one is big enough to sink it:

Number 1: Prebiotics

Foods that support the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which are called prebiotics, work just as well as probiotics. Consuming foods that are high in fiber and fat, and low in starch and sugar-based calories, have the same effect on our intestinal flora as probiotics, without the side effects that come with their consumption. All dairy, for example, has naturally-occurring growth hormones and antibiotics that stress the immune system. They work well for growing cows, but not mature humans The energizing effect from most cultured and fermented foods comes from the sugar, alcohol, vinegar, caffeine, and/or other stimulants they contain.

Number 2: Damaging Diet

Probiotics allow us to live on the typical Western diet without gaining weight. Many people comment on how good they feel since they’ve started to eat yogurt or drink kombucha on a regular basis: They feel light, and they’re able to maintain a good figure. Yet in the long run, they end up suffering from the deleterious effects of their diet that probiotic consumption masks. This is not the case with prebiotics, which in and of themselves constitute a healthy diet.

Those who have not yet stoned me as a heretic ask the inevitable question: “Where, then, do we get healthy gut bacteria from?” The same place we’ve gotten it from before designer foods and costly pills came on the scene. For millions of years, we’ve had a source that provided many more strains of gut flora than could ever be packed in a pill. It was custom-designed for each individual and his/her specific living environment. To top it off, it was free and fun to consume. Okay, enough teasing—it’s nature.

Next question: how do we get nature into our gut? Here’s the fun part:

  • Sit on the ground, play in the dirt, garden.
  • Touch rocks and plants, climb trees.
  • Spend time around animals.
  • Eat raw food, washing it only when necessary.
  • Hug people, hold hands, make love (yep, we are nature).

We often suppress these rich, local sources with our hygiene practices. Hyper-cleanliness, along with antibacterial soaps, alcohol-based sanitizers, and household cleaners are the big culprits. Instead, use vinegar, castile soap, bicarbonate of soda, and lemon juice. And let’s not overlook what may be the most ubiquitous suppressant of healthy gut functioning: stress.

There’s one more source that gave our ancestors a constant stream of intestinal flora: wild water. Hold a glass of clear pond or creek water up to the light and you will see a plethora of tiny organisms. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: put a drop under a microscope and prepare to be wowed. I don’t know that there is any better source for gut colonizers other than another animal’s gut.

However, DO NOT start drinking living water until the source has been thoroughly tested for pathogens and contaminants—and until you have been instructed in the proper protocol for introducing it into your diet.

It might appear that my primary motivation for this piece is to burst the you-need-us bubble that the health food industry has created. Even more so, I want to say that we typically don’t need to do anything extra to maintain our health when we reconnect with nature. This includes our psycho-emotional health as well. We have a tremendous innate capacity to maintain our wellness. All we have to do is break our codependent relationship with “health” food and return to an interdependent relationship with the land, water, plants, and animals—with nature.

1 Comment

Colin McGee on July 15, 2016 at 11:22 pm.

Thank you. Perfectly put!


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