At a recent visit to my midwife, Nick and I got to talking about probiotics and the risk of group B strep. I discussed in an earlier post the risks of group B strep to pregnant women; a woman who tests positive for GBS late in pregnancy must take high-dose antibiotics before and during labor to prevent transmission of the infection to the baby (for whom it might be fatal). And there are all sorts of negative side effects that go along with high doses of antibiotics: they can stay in the human system for quite a long time, frequent use encourages antibiotic resistant bacterial infections, they kill off all of the beneficial gut flora right along with the harmful infections, and like all pharmaceuticals, they carry the risk of negative reactions.
And, as I have mentioned before, ingesting probiotics and encouraging beneficial gut flora decreases the chance of colonization by harmful bacteria, including GBS. My midwife shared some very interesting statistics with us; in the greater community, the GBS rate among pregnant women is right around 30%. That means that almost a third of women delivering – and a third of babies being born – are getting extremely high doses of antibiotics. At our midwives’ practice, however, the GBS rate is somewhere around 3%. My midwife credited this to the fact that she encourages all of her mothers to ingest healthy doses of probiotics, either through supplements or fermented foods. It might be only ancedotal evidence, but the statistical difference is quite stark, and as I was already aware of the numerous benefits of probiotics for digestion and infection fighting, it is not hard for me to imagine a link between probiotic consumption and GBS rates.
There are many probiotic supplements on the market, but I would very much rather get my nutrition from real, whole food. So I have been continuing to consume my Greek yogurt and kombucha, and I have also been adding in more lacto-fermented foods, such as my mayo, and more recently sauerkraut and lacto-fermented ketchup. I currently have a mason jar of ketchup and a crock of kraut fermenting on the kitchen counter. The sauerkraut is a favorite of Nick’s that has begun to grow on me, and I have always loved ketchup (on my hamburgers and scrambled eggs, especially), but would really like to avoid the highly-processed, BPA-laced, HFCS-laden varieties that we find in the supermarket. And the homemade version is much tastier, anyway!
Both of my lacto-fermented creations should be ready for consumption sometime this weekend . . . so check back next week for pictures and recipes!