Did you know that there are trillions of good and bad bacteria living inside of your intestines right now? This digestive tract bacteria is necessary for your well-being and plays a role in how your immune system functions as well as your metabolism and mental health. Sometimes the body has too much bad bacteria like when you take antibiotics or get an infection, they can wipe out the good bacteria in your gut. When this happens your system can get out of balance and you may have symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, gas, constipation, fatigue, feeling sluggish, skin irritations, sleep disturbances, or unintentional weight changes.
This is where probiotics come into play and how they can help. Probiotics are a combination of the good bacteria in your body, such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii, which fight off the overabundance of bad bacteria in your system and help bring your body back into balance. Probiotics have been shown in studies to help treat irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, eczema, lactose intolerance, urinary and vaginal infections as well as promote their health, and prevent colds and allergies (Felson, 2020).
The two most common ways to ingest probiotics are through a daily supplement or by eating fermented foods which are probiotic rich. Probiotic potency is measured in CFUs or colony forming units, and this is a measurement of the amount of bacteria in the sample. The daily recommendation for people that are looking for immune and digestive support is for 10-15 billion CFUs per day, but some supplements have more. If you do not want to take a supplement, you can eat fermented food freely within your diet. Examples of fermented foods that have probiotics in them are yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, kimchi, and tempeh.
If you think you may be in need of a probiotic because of health or gut related issues, or want to take one for preventative care, it is always a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider first before starting a new supplement. Taking a probiotic or introducing the probiotic rich foods into your diet may be just what your body needs to replenish the good bacteria, fight off the bad, and start to feel better.
Cleveland Clinic. (2020, March 9). Probiotics: What is it, Benefits, Side Effects, Food & Types. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14598-probiotics
Felson, S. (2020, July 30). What Are Probiotics? Probiotic Supplements, Foods, Uses, Benefits, and Safety. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/what-are-probiotics#1
Harvard Health Publishing (Ed.). (n.d.). How to get more probiotics. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-get-more-probiotics#:~:text=The most common fermented foods,sourdough bread and some cheeses.
Mayo Clinic. (2020, April 27). Probiotics: Mayo Clinic Radio Health Minute. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/probiotics-mayo-clinic-radio-health-minute-2/