One Big Adventure
An opportunity to log in some of the thoughts and activities of our homeschooling family of eight. We love books and good food and aspire to a Christ-centered, multi-generational, agrarian life.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


A while back, I mentioned giving James probiotics and Lori at The Road Not Chosen asked for more information.

Essentially, probiotics (pro-life) are the good bacteria that make for a healthy gut that digests food well, assimilates nutrients into the body and helps to fight off bad bacteria that gets in to our system (in the food we eat, for example) before it causes serious problems.

There are lots of things that can damage and destroy the good bacteria (flora) in our digestive tract. A big culprit is antibiotics. While they may save lives, antibiotics actually destroy bacteria--good and bad. Other medications, like chemotherapy, affect our intestinal flora. Stress can also have a negative impact. Our body 'uses' probiotics to help digest food and those need to be replaced.

The best source of pro-biotics is food. Of course, it must be the right kind of food (not all foods have pro-biotics in them). How the food is prepared is very important in the quality and quantity of pro-biotics.

Good sources of food that provide beneficial bacteria include fermented foods or cultured milk products. Fermented foods include real pickled items (like fermented pickled cucumbers, beets or other vegetables), real sauerkraut and kimchee. Foods that are made with distilled vinegar actually destroy the beneficial bacteria and work opposite of what we hope for. Cultured milk products include yogurt (with active cultures), kefir, properly made cheeses and even butter made with cultured cream.

Sometimes it isn't possible to eat foods rich in beneficial bacteria. While there is some dispute regarding how well probiotic nutritional supplements actually help, I contend they are better than doing nothing at all. That is purely a personal assessment.

James' gastro-intestinal system is already compromised. On top of that, he has chemotherapy, an onslaught of antibiotics at various points in time and varying degrees of stress in his little life as many people he doesn't know have to do undesirable things to him. We believe it is important to try to give him as much benefit as we can in this area. As much as possible, we use good quality yogurt as part of his g-tube feeds. Sometimes we are unable to do this and we supplement with a powdered probiotic. When he is getting lots of antibiotics (we just finished a pretty heavy-duty course) and when he is under extra stress (at the hospital), we try to use both.

I chose James' probiotic supplement by going to the local-to-the-hospital Whole Foods Market and looking at all that they had available. A good pro-biotic will be refrigerated. I chose one of the brands that had a wide variety and larger quantities of probiotics listed on the bottle. As I'm reading more, I may change my approach in the future.

If you want to learn more, you can google 'probiotics' or you can get a copy of Sally Fallon's book, _Nourishing Traditions_ and read it. You'll learn a lot more in the book than about probiotics. Katie and I, especially, have found it fascinating reading.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Love, Stephanie

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