You’ve heard of people taking probiotic supplements to aid “gut health” but do they really work? And if they do, you might ask, do I need them?
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that have been tested and shown to provide a health benefit when consumed in adequate amounts.
Your body contains 38 trillion microbes that make up your microbiota and assist in keeping your health. Probiotic bacteria are found in a variety of different products, including foods, dietary supplements, infant formulas, pharmaceuticals and more.
Lifestyle habits can affect our gut bacteria adversely and lead to digestive issues where probiotics may assist our health.
Some of the things that can cause harm to your gut bacteria are:
- Not enough variety in your diet
- Too much alcohol
- Lack of physical activity
- Not enough sleep
- Excess stress
- Smoking cigarettes
What can probiotics do for health?
Research has shown that probiotics may assist with your immune function, aid your digestion, keep harmful microorganisms in check, produce vitamins, and aid in nutrient absorption. Specifically, there’s evidence that certain probiotics can:
- Reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea
- Treat infectious diarrhea
- Improve mild to moderate irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive symptoms
- Help manage symptoms associated with poor digestion of lactose
- Reduce colic symptoms and reduce the risk of eczema in infants
- Decrease some common infections
When choosing a probiotic, it’s important to remember that strains are different—so you need to pick a strain that gives the benefit you want. Amount also matters, so be sure the product contains the level of probiotics necessary for the health benefit.
Search for scientific evidence that supports the strain of bacteria, and its relativity to the condition you would like to improve. Taking different strains will have different outcomes on your health, so we recommend you seek medical or alternate health professionals’ opinion rather than self-diagnosis.
Let’s not forget that consuming live microbes in our diet will very likely help our immune system develop and improve gut health as well!
Include as part of your healthy diet:
- Fermented foods with live microbes, e.g. live culture yogurt, kefir, fermented sauerkraut and kimchi
- Probiotic-containing foods – tempeh, miso, kombucha, pickles
And now the importance of prebiotic foods and fibre that the good bacteria in your gut feeds on to keep them happy and healthy!
Fantastic prebiotic sources in our diet can include garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, barley, legumes, wheat bran, seaweed, flaxseeds, bananas, oats, apples and cocoa are all great choices.
So do your due diligence, find out if you need assistance with your gut health from a professional and be sure to add foods that naturally contain pre and probiotics in your diet regularly and your tummy with be singing with health.