My children were born in the early 1950’s and, since my husband’s career was in a city that had no place where I could further my scientific career, the focus of most of my reading was on books about how to give my young ones the best start in life that I could.
It included reading books by nutritionist Adell Davis that were then just being published. I found them very readable and informative and was so convinced by her that I started following her recommendations at a time when paying attention to what you ate was scoffed at. My faith in her advice on healthy eating back then was not misplaced. Research today vindicates her science and I felt great satisfaction when in 2000 she placed sixth among her century’s notables - that included scientists like Edison and Einstein!
For one thing, Adelle advocated eating yoghurt long before it became the highly advertised popular health food it has become in recent years. Back then it was sometimes hard to get yogurt, so I made it myself in an inexpensive temperature regulator and found it simple, inexpensive and fool proof.
I was curious as to why yogurt was so healthful and found out that it’s all about the bacteria it contains. I also learned that these single celled organisms were among the earliest forms of life that evolved on Earth 4 billion years ago. It took 3 billion years for them to diversify and learn to communicate before they finally got together to form the first multicellular creatures that we have evolved from. And they are still everywhere – so small they are invisible - in the air, in the soil, in us and on us.
Actually, amazingly, there are 3 or 4 lbs. of bacteria in our intestinal tract and we couldn’t live without them. They play a large part in the digestion of food, making vitamins and generally assisting in keeping our body working well. Tampering with their well being as we do when we take antibiotics or are under unusual stress, can cause serious illnesses like persistent diarrhea and throat and genital infections for example.
In contrast to ‘antibiotics’ that kill bacteria, ‘probiotics’ promote the health of our trillions and trillions of intestinal bacterial. Yogurt, properly made, contains mainly probiotic good kinds of bacteria. Unfortunately, to preserve their shelf life, most commercial yogurts have been heated and contain only dead bacteria. I learned recently that to be sure you are getting the good live bacteria in the yogurt you buy, it has to be tested in human clinical trials. The only yogurt I know of that has been tested in Canada and has good live bacteria is Danone Activia.
As I mentioned, making it yourself with milk is not difficult. You can also get probiotics in pill form but they are dormant in that state and not as effective in adapting to handle sudden changes that affect your bacterial health. We take them when we travel to foreign countries and are encountering new kinds of bacteria that are sometimes toxic.
Here’s to a good healthy gut and long life. Rie