Feed your Gut!
Probiotics are necessary to take – even if you don’t have digestive issues or just finished a round of antibiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria that are very beneficial for your health, most specifically, your digestive system. Your gut biome (bacteria that live in your intestines) can be destroyed or fall out of balance from antibiotics, high processed food intake, and a general unbalanced and unhealthy diet. And, although you may include probiotic-rich foods in your diet, such as yogurt, it’s important to take a quality probiotic supplement as well. Besides the fact that yogurt can have a super high sugar content which can limit the health benefits, we don’t consume an abundance of other probiotic-rich foods. Many of us do not ferment our own food or follow a traditional, nutrient-rich diet.
According to Dr. Axe1, probiotics have the following benefits:
Besides helping us to digest our food, probiotics:
- compete with unhealthy bacteria for food
- produce antibacterial substances
- help to manufacture vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, A and K
- help us to extract minerals from our food
- help us to produce essential fatty acids
- eat excess sugar
- stimulate cell repair
- increase number of immune cells
- combat allergies and inflammation
- transform toxic metals and chemicals into useful compounds
- prevent and treat urinary tract infections
- prevent and treat genital tract infections
- treat irritable bowel syndrome
- manage and prevent eczema in children
- fight food-borne illnesses
There is one caveat. Don’t buy cheap probiotics.
Cheap probiotics may virtually do nothing for your body because they’re not as potent as high quality probiotics. For example, in 2015 the New York State attorney general’s office2 caught four major retail stores (GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart) selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous supplements. After tests were conducted on the top-selling supplements, they found that 4 out of 5 of the products did not contain any of the herbs listed on the labels! Talk about a waste of money. So what are you really taking in? Cheap fillers such as powdered rice, beans, peas, carrots, asparagus, and houseplants. If you have allergies, this could be especially dangerous for your health if peanut and soybean fillers are used. Supplements are not strictly regulated, which is why so much fraudulence occurs.
When purchasing a probiotic, you must do your research.
When looking at a label consider the following:
- Bacteria type: it should consist of the genus, species and strain
- Whether or not it underwent clinical research
- Potency guarantee: most probiotics don’t list the amount of bacteria their product contains. Health benefits occur with at least 50 million CFUs (colony forming units). The higher the number, the better!
- Temperature: probiotics need to be kept cold to preserve their potency (if a food company keeps their product refrigerated, it’s a good sign)
- Make sure your bacteria are getting fed! Just as we need food, probiotics need food too. They are fed by prebiotics (a type of fiber). Remember, prebiotics lead to probiotics. Your probiotics should be formulated to include prebiotics in the capsule such as the following: Leonardite, fructoogliosaccharides, kiwi fruit, inulin, banana fiber, or chicory. You can also eat prebiotic rich foods when taking your probiotic, such as raw garlic, raw or cooked onion, banana, and raw dandelion greens.
- Look for at least 10 strains in the formula. This will allow you to get a diverse population of bacteria in your gut bacteria. The more diversity in your gut, the better!!
Lastly, never forget that knowledge is power.
Written by: Sara Monk, RD