As the summer months wane and we start harvesting garden bounties, sending children back to school, and thinking about productivity in terms of work. It is also important to consider our overall immunity and how we can continue to operate at optimal wellness when activities move indoors.
Did you know that the health of the body’s immune system starts in the gut?
In fact, the gut microbiome sets the pace for the whole body – all the way through the heart and into the brain. Therefore, one of the foundational pillars of immune support is something that directly supports your gut health.
Probiotics are live microorganisms, or “good” bacteria, that when introduced into the body especially benefit the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics not only improve the flora in your gut microbiome, they also improve your overall immunity.
“Probiotics exert their beneficial effects through various mechanisms, including lowering intestinal pH, decreasing colonization and invasion by pathogenic organisms, and modifying the host immune response.” (Williams)
Use of probiotics improves outcomes for:
- Chron’s Colitis
Although I recommend probiotic supplements in general, for immune support, keep in mind they are not a one size fits all option. Probiotics can help most people, but it’s a matter of picking the right one for the right person. Which probiotic to choose and for what instance is the question.
Especially after a bacterial infection or a surgical procedure where antibiotics have been utilized, probiotics help to restore the gut. However, if symptoms appear to become more severe with probiotics, I dig deeper into the root cause of the disruption.
For instance, if someone complains that a probiotic is making their symptoms worse, I most often suspect Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Both SIBO and Fructose Malabsorption (FM) diagnoses get specific pre-biotic free or specialized FODMAP probiotics to help restore their gut microbiome.
Probiotics can also cause nervous system disruptions for those that are neurodivergent. In this case, I prescribe special probiotics specific to the patient’s needs.
Depending on your situation, it is wise to consider adding probiotic supplements into your diet.
In addition to probiotic nutritional supplements that a naturopathic doctor might prescribe to support your immune health, probiotics can be added to your diet naturally.
Do you have a garden you are about ready to harvest?
It’s the perfect time to utilize the fresh food at your disposal and consider processing them through fermentation – a natural way you can create your very own probiotics.
Here are a few ideas for fermented foods you can make from home, a simple way to process them, and how to incorporate them into your meal plan.
Try this recipe to make refrigerator pickles straight from your garden. You might try it on any of the following vegetables:
- Radishes – tacos, korean beef
- Green Beans
Any of these pickled vegetables can be added to salads or served as a cool summer side dish in place of something roasted or steamed.
Kimchi is most commonly used in Korean style cooking. Here is a recipe to make your own traditional style kimchi with fermented Napa Cabbage (includes substitution suggestions to make it vegan). Kimchi is also available at your local market. Try adding kimchi to Korean beef bowls or any one of these variations as a stand-alone option.
Here is another simple fermented food you can make at home. Try this recipe to make yogurt with or without an Instant Pot. Serve it up with fresh berries or a tiny bit of honey.
Through naturopathic medicine, there are often ways to use what we already have in support of conventional medical advice. Adjusting your nutrition is a way to support overall immunity and also gut health (which makes your heart and brain stronger).
As a naturopathic physician with a specialty in gastroenterology, it is my goal to equip you with information so that you can make the most informed decisions about your health. In fact, at the heart of naturopathic medicine is the philosophy of doctor as teacher. My intention is to empower you to participate in your own healing process.
Please contact Dr. Heather Buckle ND, FABNO if you have questions about integrative solutions for your health care needs. If you live in Washington state and would like to learn more about Dr. Buckle’s naturopathic approach to your wellness, please call (206) 643-2239 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.
Williams, Nancy Toedter. “Probiotics.” American journal of health-system pharmacy : AJHP : official journal of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists vol. 67,6 (2010): 449-58. doi:10.2146/ajhp090168