GPS Wonders

Brenda Watson recently presented her Gut Protection System (GPS) on Public Television. I like the acronym because it’s something people will grasp easily. The idea that our gut, or gastro-intestinal tract, is the seat of all illness is nothing new. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, as well as Macrobiotics, are based on the same claim. Even Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine.”

A reader questioned my suggestion for Miso soup as a means of alkanizing the digestive tract. Miso does contain linoleic acid (which lowers cholesterol) and glutamic acid (which decreases our craving for sweets/sugar.) In addition, the fermentation process produces B12 vitamins, natural enzymes and probiotics that help to digest our foods. The end result alkalizes our digestive tract.

Fermented digestive aids have been with us through the ages in most every culture. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso and kombucha are a few of them and they can be inexpensively made at home or found in more costly forms in health food stores, supermarkets and on line. We tend to think about them more often during the winter months in New England when colds, flu, and bacterial infections make their rounds.

When antibiotics are prescribed to treat bacterial infections, they kill off both the harmful as well as the helpful bacteria we need to maintain our immune response. When taking antibiotics, unless we refortify our systems with probiotics, we risk catching the next ‘whatever’ that presents itself.

Probiotics can be found in health food stores and some pharmacies. The rule of thumb is to be sure that each time released capsule contains at least 15 billion live active cultures in a daily serving. There need to be at least 10 different strains of lactobacillus and bifidus to recolonize the digestive tract. Always check the bottom of the bottle for the expiration date and keep it refrigerated.

With the rise in MRSA and other hospital-related infections, and the increase in travel to every country in the world, we are well advised to bolster our immune systems with probiotics for at least a month before such excursions. There are also preparations that do not have to be refrigerated if you are planning to travel where refrigeration is not available. They are just more expensive.

This is kitchen table talk, the place where much vital information gets passed around. By keeping each other well informed and comparing notes, we may have the healthiest year ever!

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