A lot of people have heard that after you’ve been on a course of antibiotics, you should eat more friendly bacteria. Often this comes in the form of yogurt. We all know the Activia commercials with Jaime Lee Curtis. I haven’t seen one in a while, but I bet you remember them. She was always running around a gym or restaurant trying to get others to eat their bacteria filled yogurt.
When we take an antibiotic, the antibiotic is non-discriminant in it’s killing of bacteria. Our body is teeming with good bacteria (in the trillions), and this is a good thing. So, when you take the antibiotic to kill the bad bacteria, you’re also killing off the healthy bacteria. Our body uses the healthy bacteria in our digestive health, and to inhibit the growth of yeast and unfriendly bacteria. Also, some research has shown that the promotion of healthy bacteria can help to prevent colitis and crohns disease and alleviate diarrhea, IBS-irritable bowel syndrome and IBD-inflammatory bowel disease. There are many different strains of probiotics, but the two that are most often spoken about are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium.
There’s not just one good reason to take a probiotic, there are many. The one I want to focus on is immune protection. A 2010 study in the European Journal of Nutrition studied 272 adults taking a probiotic with 10^9 cfu (colony forming units) or a placebo. After 12 weeks, the adults taking the probiotic had a 55% incidence of developing a cold vs 67% of the placebo. In addition, once getting a cold, those taking the probiotics had symptoms dissipate after 6.2 vs 8.6 days. So almost 3 days less of symptoms. I’ll take that!
Supplement or Real Food:
There are certainly a lot of probiotic supplements on the market today. A March, 2014 University of Berkeley’s wellness newsletter stated:Probiotics are a big and rapidly growing business, with annual global sales of products expected to rise to $42 billion by 2016. That’s a pretty huge number.
Because a probiotic is not a drug, it is considered a “food” and not regulated by the FDA. With all supplements, it’s important to be skeptical that what they have on their label is truly what they have in their bottle. At this point I’d be more apt to tell you to consume your probiotics from food sources. The best food sources of probiotics are yogurt and other fermented foods. Just make sure that if the food is labeled, like yogurt or kefir, you’re getting a food that says it has multiple strains of bacteria and billions of probiotics.
Of these foods, I prefer yogurt and kefir. Although pickles and sauerkraut are very close to the top as well. I’m not as big of a fan of the others, but that is just my own personal opinion and my taste buds. Yogurt is delicious and as always, you want to look for plain yogurt with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Most yogurt is pasteurized, and this process kills the healthy bacteria. Some yogurt, like Activia add the probiotics back in. Kefir is a fermented milk product, that is similar to yogurt, but thinner. Kefir is slightly sour due to the fermentation, but it is delicious added to a smoothie, cereal or just as a drink. In addition to the probiotics, kefir is full of protein, calcium, magnesium, and B-vitamins. For those that are lactose intolerant, it actually aids in lactose digestion and not does not cause any negative symptoms like other dairy products. In fact, I’ve heard anecdotal evidence of lactose intolerant people consuming kefir, which actually boosted their ability to handle lactose, and they now enjoy some dairy products. Here’s the kefir that I drink:
Since I’m a big fan of increasing your immunity, eating nutritious foods, and just boosting your overall health, I’m a fan of drinking kefir. Here’s a smoothie I made that will boost your immunity, plus help your overall health. This smoothie also contains vegetables, healthy fat, and oats. It’s an all around great smoothie, and I would recommend this as a recovery smoothie for athletes post workout. You’ve got your protein, carbs, healthy fat, in addition to being chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and immunity boosting ingredients. Enjoy!
Kale Cherry Recovery Smoothie (Serves 1)
1 cup plain nonfat kefir
3/4 cup dark cherries (I used frozen, add ice if you’re using fresh)
1 cup kale
1 tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup oats
- In a blender pour kefir, and add additional ingredients. Blend till smooth
- Add additional ice if necessary
- Kcal: 450
- Carb: 70g
- Protein: 20g
- Fat: 12g
- Fiber: 10g
*If you’re not an athlete and not looking for this to be a recovery drink, you an omit the oats. This will then make the smoothie nutrition:
- Kcal: 380
- Carb: 58g
- Protein: 18g
- Fiber: 8g
So, still a healthy and delicious smoothie. The oats add a fantastic creaminess, in addition to healthy carbs, fiber, more immune boost, and vitamins.
Berggren A, Lazou Ahrén I, Larsson N, Önning G; Lazou Ahrén; Larsson; Önning (Aug 2010). “Randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled study using new probiotic lactobacilli for strengthening the body immune defence against viral infections”. Eur J Nutr. 50 (3): 203–10