About 90% of my discharge instructions include adding probiotics to my patients daily lives. I work in low-income, underserved communities and asking them to find a probiotic that is right for them is difficult, not to mention pricey. Probiotic supplements often decrease in potency because they cannot survive the highly acidic environment of the stomach. That’s why fermented foods and drinks rich in probiotics are best.
Why do I do prescribe them? Well first let me give you some background:
What are probiotics? They are live bacteria that are beneficial to our bodies. About 100 trillion bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa (for those of us who have them) live in bodies as an ecosystem called the microbiome. Our bodies are made up of cells (white blood cells, bone cells, nerve cells, etc) that are outnumbered by this microbiome by about 10 to 1.
When we live in this world among chemicals, pesticides and pollutants, our good bacteria (good flora, good microflora) and our inner protective microbial organisms get destroyed. Then we eat and drink food and beverages that have chemicals, pesticides, pollutants and genetically-modified organisms in them and our microbiome is challenged and the good stuff is destroyed some more. Probiotics help rebalance the good bacteria and work to keep the microbiome and our bodies and minds in happy homeostasis.
Here are some of the friendly bacteria that we know about so far:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus bulgarius
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Saccharomyces boulardii
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Bacillus subtilis
- Saccharomyces cerevisiae
So when I realized that I should start with what my patients know and may already have in their home, I thought of apple cider vinegar and I began ‘prescribing’ apple cider vinegar (ACV). ACV is a good addition to your daily food routine because it offers myriad of health benefits. Vinegar has been used for thousands of years for medicinal uses. ACV is made by taking apples and fermenting them making acetic acid, which can help control harmful bacteria.
Science has studied the benefits of ACV and some of them include: reduced LDL cholesterol, reduced blood sugar, lowers blood pressure and can help with weight loss. There is also some evidence that it helps with acne, anxiety, allergies, asthma, diarrhea, GERD (reflux disease) and overall immune system health.
Adding ACV to something you put in your body daily is a really easy way to help your microbiome heal and get back to good.
Here are some ideas:
Add one teaspoon to 8 ounces of water and drink before meals
Make a salad dressing out of it with olive oil and sea salt
Take local honey, two teaspoons of ACV and filtered water and put in bottle, shake up and drink throughout the day
Additional forms of probiotics in foods or drinks:
Raw milk or goats milk/yogurt