Probiotic Bacteria in My Diet

To say the least, things have been bumpy lately.

I moved across town. I’m totally excited about the move but whether I’m happy about it or not, moving is considered to be a major life event – or in stress terms: a major external stressor (not to mention that it was postponed by a week due to my miscarriage). On the day we moved things also got a bit hectic – can moving day go any other way? I tried to eat well and stay relaxed. But, no, it did not work.

For lunch I threw some chicken in the oven to go with the potato salad my mother-in-law made. Being in the hectic mode I was in, I forgot to ask what was in the potato salad. Well, it turns out she put in some sunflower seeds – seems harmless but, they are the bag of sunflower seeds I gave her because I couldn’t eat them with a clear allergy warning on the back that they may contain gluten. Yes, I told her they contained gluten when I gave them to her. But apparently, she forgot, and fed them to me.

After we finished hauling in the last boxes, we stood in our new kitchen with friends and toasted with our Champagne glasses bubbling with…water. No, water just didn’t seem to represent celebration, so, I raised my glass full of Champagne just like everyone else.

Stress, gluten and alcohol. These things have never equated to fun for my body. Why should now be any different? I got my acne back, my hair started falling out again, I lost weight that I didn’t want to loose, and I’ve been pretty exhausted. I finally started feeling better last week (the move was over four weeks ago). All I can do is hope that this episode is coming to an end and that I’m recovering.

So what about the probiotic bacteria?

Well, in the same haphazard fashion of the move: I didn’t stick to my plan. The plan was to first introduce probiotic bacteria naturally with fermented foods and then, if necessary, add probiotic supplements.

That’s not what I did. Instead it was like this: I’m standing in my new kitchen with my body totally peeved (acne, tired etc.) and I saw the gluten free probiotic supplements sitting in the middle of the otherwise empty fridge. I thought, “Oh, what the hell.”

I took them for two weeks every morning with my mid-morning snack and except for a little bit of a butterfly feeling in my stomach sometimes, there’s not much to report. My bowels were actually a little slower during that period but since everything was out of whack it’s really hard to say how my body reacted specifically to the probiotics.

I’ve stopped taking the probiotics and I am also feeling better. Connection? No idea. My head is on straight now, though (I think) and I am going back to food sources to get my probiotic bacteria. Here’s what I’ve chosen:

Probiotic Food I’m including:

  • Organic Raw Sauerkraut – I sprinkle this on my salads.
  • Organic Vinegar – I use vinegar to make a simple but yummy salad dressing (2 Tbs olive oil , 2 Tbs vinegar, 1 crushed garlic clove, ½ tsp Dijon mustard, salt and pepper: shake in a jar and enjoy).
  • Miso Paste – I found some that’s gluten free and I use it to make miso soup. Yes, this is a product made from soy, which I avoid because several studies suggest that too much soy can lead to infertility. So why do I eat miso if I’m avoiding soy products? Fermented soy products offer the benefits without the drawbacks of non-fermented soy. Soybeans are high in phytates and enzyme inhibitors which cause gastric distress and can bind to minerals like zinc, calcium, and iron in the digestive tract and prevent their absorption. Fermented soy contains only low levels of these culprits.
  • Tamari Sauce – This is like soy sauce but is gluten free. I use this sauce along with ginger and olive oil to bake my chicken. I also add it to steamed vegetables. Yes, this is a soy product that I allow because it is fermented – see Miso Paste above for why I allow fermented soy products in my diet.
  • Organic Pickles – I eat this as a snack but I’m careful to buy the truly fermented ones: not in vinegar but listed on the package as fermented.

Probiotic Food I’m not including and why:

  • Fermented Dairy Products like cottage cheese, kefir and yogurt – dairy products remain controversial in their role in infertility and most experts recommend keeping them to a minimum, add on to that I don’t digest them well.
  • Tofu – several studies suggest that too much soy can lead to infertility
  • Soy sauce – contains gluten
  • Tempeh – again, several studies suggest that too much soy can lead to infertility
  • Beer & Wine – some studies suggest it may not be good for fertility and it’s dangerous to a developing fetus, not to mention that it throws off my digestive system.

And in my diet I also include the following foods that contain prebiotics (food for the probiotic bacteria):

  • Asparagus
  • Chicory
  • Chinese chive
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Fruit – I only eat fruit in small amounts so that I don’t spike my sugar / insulin levels
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Leeks
  • Legumes
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes

Here are the prebiotic food items I don’t eat and why:

  • Burdock root –  I have no idea what this is or where to get it
  • Peas – never really liked these little green pellets
  • Soybeans – several studies suggest that too much soy can lead to infertility
  • Sugar maple – can spike sugar levels / insulin

So, I’ll keep eating my probiotic foods and I’m even thinking about making some of my own sauerkraut. We’ll see in the next few weeks how my body likes the new critters in my digestive system.