Probiotics have little to do with sweeteners, so why include them here on this website? Well for two reasons:
Firstly because of the confusion around probiotics and prebiotics. You see both work to benefit gut bacteria and health, but in different ways. And prebiotics have everything to do with sweeteners.
Secondly because new research has shown that artificial sweeteners have a detrimental effect on gut bacteria. So for a fuller discussion on the effects of sweeteners on health, an understanding of both probiotics and prebiotics is necessary.
Unlike prebiotics, probiotics actually contain beneficial bacteria which pass through the stomach and into the intestines. There are literally billions of bacteria in the gut and they are required to digest food as it passes through the body. However, there are beneficial and harmful bacteria present. The addition of probiotics alters the balance by adding beneficial bacteria.
The benefits have been shown to be:
1. Better immune system.
2. Better and more effective digestion and absorption of nutrient from food.
3. More balanced appetite, leading to desirable weight control without the need for conscious dieting.
4. Positive effect on metabolism, reducing risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
5. Improved mental health, as a link has been shown to exist between gut health and the nervous system.
6. Benefits to new born children as they are exposed to their mother's body as they pass through the birth canal. A healthy mother passes on antibodies to the new born baby.
Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride MD has shown a link between autism and adhd in children and the health of the mother's gut. She has a clinic in Cambridge UK.
So it appears that there are tremendous benefits to a healthy gut flora.
So what do we have to do to achieve a healthy gut?
It takes time for the gut to become healthy, following lifestyle changes.
Typically 6 months and up to 2 years are required for the full effect to be achieved. Firstly an awareness is necessary, then new habits need to be formed and maintained. And they are:
1. The addition of probiotics in the diet. The best form is fermented and uncooked food such as sauerkraut, fermented cucumber, unpasteruised miso, kefer, and yoghurt. Probiotic capsules can also be taken, though they are expensive, and contain no nutrition. It is very easy to make fermented vegetables at home. Simply pop chopped cucumber in salted water, cover and leave for a couple of weeks. It's that simple and details are available on the web.
2. The addition of prebiotics in the diet. The best source is inulin and it is found in Yacon Syrup, also in artichoke, leeks and onions.
3. Removal of antibiotics from the diet. This includes foods such as meat that contain them. (Antibiotics can save your life, but there is a high cost to be paid, so they should be treated with respect!!)
4. Avoidance of sterile handwashes, soaps and antibacterial wipes. Though these kill all harmful bugs on surfaces, it is nearly impossible to fully remove them from the skin, and they work their way into the mouth by touching food etc.
5. Excessive intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar have been shown to alter the balance of bacteria in the gut.
6. All artificial sweeteners appear to have a profound effect on gut health. Interestingly, they appear to have the effect of stimulating appetite, which may explain why people fail to lose weight using these products.