From the age of 20 to 43, I lived with the gut-wrenching pain of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Pain that sometimes brought me to the bathroom floor in cold sweats. Pain that brought prayers in stores like, "Please, Lord, let me make it. Please, please, please." And emotional pain from embarrassing moments if I didn't make it to the bathroom on time. Prayers in the car to make it home on time or for tall corn fields.

Now for those who have never experienced that particular problem it may sound kind of funny. But, it was far from funny for me. It was NORMAL.

Normal because I had been told my dad had a "touchy" stomach. Normal because the doctors gave me no hope and no remedy. Normal sucked. Irritable Bowel Syndrome sucked!

It wasn't until I was searching for an answer to my husband David's myriad of health issues that I found the solution for me. PROBIOTICS!

One simple health solution for Irritable Bowel Syndrome changed my whole life; changed my view of normal! By finding one solution, I changed 23 years of pain into a dim experience I can share with others. Now my prayers are, "Thank you, Lord, for giving me health once again!"

PROBIOTICS. So what are they?

Basically intestinal bacteria can be separated into two general groups: those that benefit us and those that harm us. That balance of beneficial bacteria and bad bacteria plays a major role in our health, both in a positive and negative way.

In Dr S.K. Dash's book, "The Consumer's Guide to Probiotics", the benefits to having a good balance of good bacteria (probiotics) are:

* Improved digestion of foods and alleviating digestive disorders.
* Enhanced synthesis of B vitamins.
* Protection against E. coli and other food poisoning type infections.
* Improved lactose tolerance and digestibility of milk products.
* Reduced risk of vaginal infection and yeast infection.
* Improved immune function. (anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal)
* Promoting anti-carcinogenic activity.
* Helping to prevent peptic ulcer caused by H. pylori.
* Preventing acne.
* Reducing cholesterol.

In today's culture, good probiotics are needed more than ever. Our polluted environment, food additives, tobacco smoke, stress, alcohol, chlorinated and fluoridated water, antibiotics dispensed like they were candy, and the use of many other medications(prescription and over-the-counter) can destroy the friendly bacteria in our intestines.

When the good guys are all but gone it makes the body susceptible to disease and infections. Research shows that 40% of men and 70% of women have yeast infections to some degree resulting from poor eating habits, cortisone drugs and heavy use of antibiotics.

Last month I talked about starting to eliminate processed and refined food. With the friendly bacteria significantly diminished, the bad bacteria have a heyday on this type of food in your gut and it just rots instead of digests and assimilates. This significantly lowers the nutrients your getting into your system for cells to utilize. No wonder people are low on energy and tired all the time.

So, how do we get probiotics back in to our gut?

1. Make fermented veggie foods like sauerkraut. The book called "Wild Fermentation" has a great recipe for sauerkraut. My mother used to make French cut beans this way called Snippled Beans. MMmmmm good. I'd sneak some out of the crock before she put it through the canning process which killed the beneficial bacteria unfortunately. Buying processed sauerkraut has the same problem, sour taste but no friendly bacteria.

2. Make fermented raw milk or coconut milk foods like yogurt or kefir. Purchased yogurts are not recommended because the processing leaves the product with very little, if any, live culture and lots of sugar added.

3. From probiotic supplements. In purchasing probiotic supplements, one should purchase from a reputable company. Read labels! Always choose the highest quality possible.

* When choosing capsules, be sure that each one contains a guaranteed count of at least 2 billion bacteria of the best specific strain. Powdered products should contain at least 2 billion bacteria per 1/2 teaspoon amount. Consumption of probiotic supplements with two to five billion CFU(colony forming units) per day is necessary to have any chance of offering significant beneficial effects.

* Be wary of combination powdered products that claim to have a wide variety of different bacterial species without giving a specific bacterial count. The product may contain very little of the bacteria you want. It is best to choose powdered products that contain only one strain.

* Be sure the product includes the bacteria's growth medium, like if the bacteria was grown on milk. In lactose-intolerant or lactose-allergic individuals, milk-based products can cause problems. However when shopping for dairy-free probiotics be aware that the US government standards allow a little leeway in labeling information which can be somewhat misleading. There may be a legal limit of milk byproducts allowed in a product with a "diary-free" label.

Probiotic capsules are not the "quick fix" that medications are. They are a food supplement like a vitamin-mineral supplement.

Sure, you can get vitamins and minerals in quality food. But quality food is hard to come by in our modern culture. The kind of quality food you can get at farmer's markets; organic fruit and vegetables, grass fed beef, free range chickens, no processing. Soil nutrients have been farmed out of most mass produced crops. Farmers now use processed fertilizers to put in the soil and not organic compost from animals that returns the nutrients in the soil that the plants can take up.

In past years, probiotics were eaten in the form of fermented foods like real unprocessed yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut or kimchi. People had gardens and ate the vegetables right from the plant often times without rinsing it off.

Probiotics in capsules are the supplement you can take if you don't make fermented foods or like the sour taste of fermented foods. They are not a medication. They fix the problem instead of cover it up. They bring back the friendly bacteria to be the guardians of your gut.

Have you been living with a condition for months, maybe years, and have just accepted it as normal? Not normal necessarily for anyone else mind you, but for you?
Normal, either because you think it was genetic or normal because you think there isn't anything anyone can do about it? Irritable Bowel Syndrome - 23 Years of Gut-wrenching Pain - Gone With Probiotics If you are fed up with accepting a chronic condition or illness as normal, maybe you are ready to see how I may be able to help you find a NORMAL you can LIVE with!  As what we eat establishes exactly what kinds of organisms we have. unhealthy,.

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