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  • Jane Wheeler

Prebiotics - Keeping the Forest Fed

Back in what I thought was cold and flu season I wrote an article on Probiotics (Oct 2017) turns out cold and flu season is still with us, kind of like our snow right now, lingering. There is a horrible stomach flu and a chest cold going around and this is just after we had a horrible throat and chest cold last month. Is the flu season getting longer? Or are our immune systems just not fighting like they used to?

I am not really sure, but like in my October blog on Probiotics, we do have to take some steps that help us get our bodies back into fighting mode, always take a good Multi Vitamin.

Another thing to do for sure in Canada is take some Vitamin D, especially in the winter. You can get Vitamin D from sunshine, but apparently in Canada it is hard to find enough Vitamin D in the winter. To ensure you get the sunshine vitamin D, you need sunshine contact on your bare skin for 15-20 minutes when the uv index is above 3, kind of not sounding a lot like Canadian sunshine. You can take a supplement, swallow some Cod Liver Oil, eat some egg yolks, salmon, tuna, trout, or swordfish. There is some in fortified milk and orange juice but I recommend you take a supplement. Here is what I learned about Vitamin D when I worked for the MS Society of Canada:

“If you are an adult (age 9 and up), consider taking up to 4000 IU supplement of vitamin D per day during the winter or if you are at risk of low sun exposure. The risk of vitamin D toxicity is extremely rare, however, with supplements there is the potential that vitamin D could build up to toxic levels. Supplements taken as directed and up to 4000 IU/day for adults would not lead to toxicity. This is not intended as medical guidance, so it is recommended that you speak with your physician about appropriate levels of vitamin D intake.”[1]

I figure back when I was a kid and we all had to take Cod Liver oil – there was a method to the madness, mom’s knew what they were doing.

So what else? I have had some people tell me recently and have watched this same circle I used to get after being horribly sick and taking antibiotics. I take the antibiotics and 2-3 weeks later I get the same or another infection. Yup – that is the circle. Why?

If you are run down or take antibiotics and trust me, they are necessary, but not too much, you have good and bad bacteria in your body and you have to have both to survive. A lot like an ecosystem in a forest, you have some big sturdy trees and those sucker trees and weeds that try to take over. When you take a round of antibiotics, you clear cut the land. Basically you have cut down every tree in the forest. Bare. You need to replant.

If you have noticed in the forest, the weeds and sucker trees seem to always come back first. It takes a long time to grow a tree. Probiotics are the good trees.

So yes after antibiotics people should take a bottle of Probiotics for sure, get those good bacteria growing again. When you do not, bad bacteria grows faster and you relapse into sickness usually 2-3 week later. The word is out about Probiotics, and no – yogurt is not sufficient enough after antibiotics.

What I have been questioning on myself and in others is after the Probiotics have we replanted enough trees? We may peak for a while and then the tiredness comes, or the dragging ourselves around or even another sickness occurs. This is where Prebiotics come in. I know a whole new thing – Prebiotics.

Basically a Prebiotic is something that feeds the trees. It is the nutrition needed to keep the good trees growing; probiotics eat prebiotics. You can plant the trees, but something has to make them grow, nutrition. I never knew a lot about what a Prebiotic was, but in gardener terms it makes sense to feed the trees.

Prebiotics are found in things you normally eat, it is a type of fiber. It can be found in raw garlic, raw onions (cooked still have some), raw leeks, raw asparagus, raw banana, raw chicory root and raw dandelion greens. You can buy prebiotic powders and supplements as well.

Once you have a new forest under way and it is being fed you will feel a lot better, your digestion will improve and it will thank you, your immune system will have the kick it needs to drive those cold and flu bugs away.

Stay healthy!

[1] MS Society of Canada, Vitamin D Fact Page:

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