Probiotics are a dietary supplement that when taken regularly, provide powerful health benefits. There are many different types of probiotics on the market so it may be confusing if you simply go to a store to buy some. This article will help answer what is a probiotic, which strains to pay close attention to, why you should take a probiotic regularly and summarize the powerful health benefits.
WHAT IS A PROBIOTIC?
A probiotic is a substance which stimulates the growth of microorganisms, especially those with beneficial properties (such as those of the intestinal flora). (Source: Lexico) We have trillions of bacteria in our bodies, some are good and some are bad. When we are feeling good, have energy, sleep well and have a bowel movement every day, the bacteria in our body is balanced. We are able to fight illness and disease.
When we have a cold, upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, have a hard time sleeping, anxiety, acne, skin rashes and brain fog, the bacteria in our body is imbalanced. That means the bad bacteria has taken over for some reason. It could be a one time situation, like food poisoning. It could be caused by a longer term issue that we have been ignoring because we thought "I'm getting older, I am supposed to have health issues."
The truth is we can have healthy bacteria in our bodies all the time and good health no matter what our age. It is not just based on what we eat. An overall approach to living a healthy lifestyle such as eating mostly organic plant based foods, drinking and cooking with clean water and moving our bodies will stimulate good bacteria production in our bodies.
WHAT STRAINS ARE MOST BENEFICIAL?
Probiotics are a diverse group of bacteria and there are many different strains. Some strains have been studied for specific ailments, such as Colitis. If you do not have a very specific condition that you want to resolve, then look for a dietary supplement that contains the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium category of strains.
Both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are naturally found in our body. They are both found in our intestinal tract and stomach. Having a good supply of both in our body helps to ward off infections, illness and helps keep the body strong to fight pathogens.
Bifidobacterium are not found in food but eating certain foods can help Bifidobacterium grow. Foods such as apples, artichokes, blueberries, onions, garlic, bananas, cocoa, green tea, red wine, almonds and pistachios. (Source: Healthline) Lactobacillus acidophilus is found in a variety of foods, such as sauerkraut, miso and yogurt.
WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE A PROBIOTIC REGULARLY
To get the most benefit from probiotics, take a supplement daily. You can go to FullScript to see my favorites by clicking here. Taking a daily supplement gives your body the best chance of its good bacteria staying in balance. Relying only on food to support the health bacteria in our bodies is misleading.
If you aren't eating organic food, the chemicals and pesticides in non-organic food negatively impact the good bacteria in the body. When we eat foods that contain chemicals, our bodies get overwhelmed trying to fight the unknown substances. When this happens, our body gets fatigued and is unable to help produce the good bacteria we need to be healthy.
When you eat organic food, there is a better chance to keep the gut healthy. While there is residual chemicals in the food, it is more nutrient dense and helps calm the body from specifically attacking the chemical overload from non-organic food. Then the body can focus on digesting the food and extracting nutrients.
Another issue of getting probiotic support from food is that most Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Optimal health means eating 7 to 9 servings a day. Only 1 in 10 adults eat the 3 to 5 servings that are meant for us to meet the bare minimum of health. (Source: CDC)
When looking to buy a supplement, start with 5 billion Colony Forming Units (CFUs). This is how supplement labels will identify the potency of the probiotic. There are many other potencies on the market but when first starting out, a lower dose is better. Your body will need to get acclimated to the probiotic. When you first start taking it, you may notice being gassy or having a more frequent bowel movement. This will subside over time.
If you have an existing health condition that you are looking to resolve, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, lack of energy, moodiness, skin rashes, abdominal pain, anxiety, frequent belching or stomach gurgling, a probiotic can help along with other lifestyle changes.
Not sure where to start? I am here to help! I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist teaching people just like you how to stop suffering from embarrassing symptoms so you can get back to living. The TAKE YOUR LIFE BACK coaching call is a FREE 30 minute call where we will talk about your specific symptoms and start creating a plan on how to get your health back by using the Simply Great Health program. Simply Great Health is a customized 5 Step plan that identifies the specific steps to heal your body and fits your busy lifestyle. Book your call directly here. It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE. If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now. If it is a fit, we can take the next step and get you started on the path to healing.
6 POWERFUL HEALTH BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS
If you think not having a bowel movement every day is normal or that every body has a different schedule, then you have been misinformed. What is a bowel movement? It is the elimination of waste.
What happens when we don't poop for three days? The waste ferments in our body and allows bacteria to grow and back up into our gastrointestinal tract. That means bacteria is penetrating our bodies causing bloating, gas, cramping and constipation. Probiotics help keep the waste moving out of your body helping to eliminate waste more regularly.
STRONG IMMUNE SYSTEM
Did you know 70% of our immune system is in our gut? By feeding the beneficial bacteria in our gut, we are helping to keep the immune system strong. When we have a strong immune system, pathogens do not stand a chance of making us sick.
RELIEF FROM BLOATING
Several clinical studies have shown that certain probiotic supplements can help reduce gas production and bloating. Lactobacillus plantarum is one of those. (Source: Healthline)
This is very exciting! Recent studies have proven that there is a pathway between the gut and the brain. The gut produces many of the same neurotransmitters as the brain does, like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid, all of which play a key role in regulating mood. In fact, it is estimated that 90% of serotonin is made in the digestive tract. (Source: Harvard Health) When we keep our gut full of healthy bacteria, we are in a better mood.
Improving the gut bacteria could improve sleep quality since the gut produces melatonin that the brain uses to regulate sleep. Inflammation is negatively correlated to sleep, and probiotics can also help manage a healthy inflammatory response. (Source: Natural Products Insider)
IMPROVES SYMPTOMS OF IBS AND IBD
Diseases such as IBS and IBD are associated with low levels of Bifidobacterium in the intestines. Certain species such as Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 have shown to reduce inflammation, cramping, bloating and abdominal pain in IBS and IBD patients. This strain is in the product Align.
I hope this post inspires you to take a probiotic daily. The gut is the most critical system to keeping the rest of the body healthy. If you experience gas, bloating, anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, acne, skin rashes, moodiness and food allergies, your gut is unhealthy. When the gut is unhealthy so is the rest of the the body.
Do you think you will try a probiotic? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.