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What’s your gut telling you??

food-as-medicineA couple weeks back I attended a continuing education program called 'The Pharmacy in Your Kitchen: An Overview of Medical and Medicinal Foods' given by Dr. Michael Lara.  It was a fascinating all-day presentation, and I am hoping to share a couple posts regarding the valuable information shared that day.

Did you know your gut contains more than 10 trillion microorganisms?!
Don't you want to know what they're doing??

One of the best takeaways from this program was a video put out via NPR called 'The Invisible Universe of the Human Microbiome'.

Okay that sounds like a mouthful and very technical. Despite the wordy title, this little video has animated characters and explains things in such a fun and simple way, it's great information for both adults and children on probiotics or 'good bugs' and the importance of them in your body.

Click here for a link to the YouTube video.  It's really fantastic and I encourage readers to take a few minutes to view.

This is really now the 'hot' science.  For example, it's now known that gut flora (or your make-up of good and bad bugs) really differs in obese or diabetic people compared to folks of normal weight. Your make-up of gut flora can actually affect the rate at which you absorb fatty acids and carbs and increase the storage of calories as fat.  The science is really exploding, both in areas of general health and looking at specific diseases.

Hence, you've likely seen entire shelves at your local grocery or drug store for various probiotic products now touted for weight loss, immune support, and all kinds of untested claims.

Probiotic means that it contains live and active bacterial cultures.

Fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut (see my last post!), kimchee, and yogurt are actually great sources of probiotics, and in many cases provide a much higher bacterial load than what is found in supplements.  You want to make sure that products, whether supplements or food, contain live cultures.  Many foods such as yogurt are pasteurized (which kills the bugs).  But in the case of yogurts, live cultures are typically reintroduced afterwards so most yogurt brands are a good source.

However, things like jars of pickles or canned sauerkraut are not going to contain live cultures because they are pasteurized for longer shelf life. But the sauerkraut sold in the refrigerated section might - it's typically indicated on the label if it does contain live cultures.  So it's a case of having to read labels carefully.


And sorry folks, beer also doesn't count (unless you've got a local source of unpasteurized, unfiltered homebrew!). Waiting for someone to make medicinal beer for 'untapped' market for sure! Ha!

We've recently incorporated Lifeway Kefir into our breakfast routines.  It comes in a bunch of flavors (strawberry, blueberry, peach, etc.) The kids seem to like it since it pretty much tastes like a smoothie and it's a great protein source in the morning.

Hopefully, you found this information useful and will take a peek at the video, show it to your kids, and maybe try adding something fermented to your grocery list!

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