You know the old phrase, “When mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy”—? Well, let’s just say for a moment that your gut is the “mama” of your body (it kind of is). It turns out that when your gut isn’t happy, it’s easy for everything else in your body to go off kilter, too. God gave us an army of good bacteria that helps us digest food, fight of foreign invaders, and generally keep our bodies healthy.
Probiotics have become a big thing in health news over the last few years. Just as with vitamins, there are mixed reviews, and everybody has an opinion. And just as has happened with vitamins and minerals, many people say they get enough from what they eat. In the case of probiotics, many people assume that eating yogurt gets them all the probiotics they need. Unfortunately, most of them are wrong.
In a perfect world, the good bacteria, our internal flora, would stay strong and healthy enough to protect us from the odd external invader. But in our modern world, our bodies are assaulted every day by an exhausting list of invaders: pollution, manmade chemicals, chlorine and fluoride in tap water, prescription drugs, food preservatives, alcohol, chemotherapy and radiation, and even everyday stress.
Like I said earlier, when mama ain’t happy…..When our internal flora are compromised, our food isn’t digested as effectively and we are more vulnerable to bad bacteria, fungi, and harmful parasitic micro-organisms. Mama Flora needs help. I feel confident in saying it would be a good idea for most people to make sure they are getting a good supply of probiotics, whether from food or supplementation.
Now let’s talk about getting probiotics from yogurt. It is true that you may get some good bacteria from some of the most popular brands, but be sure to look at the label for sugar content. Yoplait, Dannon, Stonyfield, and Brown Cow all have 24-29 grams of sugar in the little 6-ounce container. That’s more sugar than a Twinkie! They’re not all bad; some unflavored yogurts have around 10 grams of sugar, and I’ve seen Greek yogurt as low as 6 grams. Some sugar, especially natural sugar, is ok—but 29 grams in a 6-ounce container is not! Add it to the rest of the sugar you get from everything else you eat with it and you may as well have a doughnut. Not really, but you get my point.
So how can you get more good bacteria without getting your daily intake of sugar in a single tiny serving? The good side of living in our modern world is that there is a wealth of yummy food that may help your gut and add some good bacteria without jacking up your sugar intake. Try a few of these: plain unsweetened yogurt, Kefir, buttermilk, aged cheeses, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, certain types of algae, and even one of my niece’s favorite food groups, dark chocolate. The internet is full of recipes for delicious ways to incorporate these foods into your diet.
I learned a long time ago that keeping mama happy was one of the keys to improving nearly every aspect of my life, physical and emotional. If you want a healthy body, you need to start with a healthy gut. Avoiding junk foods, chemicals, and stress can help, as can eating a varied, wholesome diet and taking the supplements you need. I love to cook and eat fresh, healthy food, but I know it isn’t always easy or possible to get enough probiotics. For me, taking a couple capsules at bedtime makes me sleep better, knowing that I am helping my internal flora and keeping my gut healthy.
Mama Flora sleeps peacefully, and so do I.