Probiotics And Me

My passion for probiotic bugs came about through one of those coincidences that abound in life.

I'm a New Zealander but a few years back I was rearing calves in New South Wales, Australia, whilst my husband drove tractors for a silage contractor. It was our first trip to Australia and we were enjoying ourselves.

The only down side was that the farm I was working on had the rotavirus bacteria on it. I was warned that during the previous Spring many of the calves died from the dehydration they suffered because of the diarrhea caused by this bad bug.

I spent hours stomach tubing electrolytes into those little calves to rehydrate them. Most of them were pulling though but there was still the problem of them falling victim to one of the opportunist bugs that would strike them in their weakened state. It was heartbreaking to arrive at the calf shed in the morning and find a calf that you had nursed for days dead and cold.

When I was at the supermarket one day, purely by chance my eyes fell upon a little bottle of Yakult sitting amongst the yogurts. Now, I knew that yogurt contained "good bugs" that could help a person's "insides". What, I wondered would this rather serious looking little bottle of goodies do for my calves? You see, it wasn't strawberry flavoured, sweetened to the tenth degree stuff. It gave me the feeling that this just might be what yogurt was supposed to be, what it used to be before the manufacturers got hold of it.

So, I bought a pack of 5 of these little bottles, took them home and mixed them into the milk I was giving my post-rotavirus calves. Next morning, every last one of them was looking good. No tiny little dead body in the corner of the calf shed to be taken out. So, I bought another packet and tipped it in to their morning milk.


Me and my Australian calves
Me and the (now weaned) calves in NSW, Australia


And that was how my love affair with probiotics began. Later, when I learnt about them, I discovered that Yakult contained Lactobacillus casei which just so happens to be great for rotaviral diarrhea in humans. Someone must have been smiling on me that day to lead me to notice the most suitable of the yogurts for treating those little calves.

The more I looked into the history of probiotics the more I enjoyed the microbiological world they inhabit. I found I enjoyed discovering just what these little super achievers can do.

And what's my personal philosophy on probiotics? How do I incorporate them into my own life? Well, I try to eat a diet rich in probiotics. I eat "live and active" yogurt whether bought or make my own. I've tried making sauerkraut but I'm too much of a sweet tooth to enjoy the flavor.

I use Blis tablets (they contain Streptococcus salivarius k12) going into each winter to reinforce the right bacteria in my mouth to combat winter bugs. A fortuitous side effect means that it keeps my breath sweet too! I keep good health so I don't take any probiotic supplements unless there are "tummy troubles" doing the rounds and then I do. If I was going to travel to some exotic place (I wish!) where perhaps the food and water might be a bit dodgy, then again I would reinforce my natural defences.

So that's me. I hope you enjoy the site. I'm not a doctor or science boffin but I've tried to give you a peek into the world of the probiotic bacteria.

And next time you spoon that yogurt over your breakfast cereal, I hope you're going to look at it through new eyes and give thanks to the millions of little helpers within.