The bacteria in your body outnumbers the number of cells in your body TEN to ONE and most of that bacteria resides in your gut! But don’t worry, most bacteria are quite harmless and some are even friendly and can benefit your health!
Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain these friendly bacteria, and help colonize our guts with health-boosting microorganisms.
There are a lot of different probiotics out there, all with different strains of good bacteria and offering different benefits for your health.
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Here is everything you need to know about probiotics – what they are, how they assist a healthy lifestyle, and which ones are best!
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are the “live and active cultures” present in different foods. They are living microorganisms, or good bacteria, added to different foods or naturally present by means of fermentation.
After you’ve been taking probiotics for a few days, they start to have a presence in your gut, regulating smooth and easy digestion! They keep things regular, and can treat IBS, constipation and diarrhea. They manage toxins and generally make your digestive tract a healthier place. :-)
How Should I Take Probiotics?
Now that you’re interested in probiotics, you’ll need to know what to buy. I started with these standard forms of probiotics:
Capsule: The probiotics in pill form are really handy, because you don’t have to change your diet, worry about consuming a full portion, or taste anything! Just a daily pill and you’re good to go.
When you look for a probiotic in the pharmacy, you’ll see a bunch of different varieties. They’ll offer many different strains of probiotics, and will focus on various benefits for your health. Don’t worry about getting multiple strains of probiotics, just one or two quality strains have everything you need! Look for something that promotes healthy digestion and a strong immune system.
DanActive Yogurt: A lot of dairy products, particularly yogurt, have probiotics added to them. This is perfect, because dairy products neutralize your stomach acid, making the probiotics more effective. These drinkable yogurt cups actually taste pretty good, and make a great little breakfast when you’re running out the door.
Kefir: The kefir I tried tasted like a very tart, smooth yogurt. You can drink it plain, add it to a smoothie, or pour it over granola. I liked the taste of it, it packs in a lot of probiotics, and I would definitely buy it again!
Kombucha: The flavor of kombucha may take some getting used to, it is very tart! You can find quite a few flavors of kombucha drinks, but they will all have a bit of a bite! The yeast and bacteria make for a fizzy, tangy beverage full of probiotics, vitamin B, and acetic acid.
Sauerkraut, Kimchi and Other Fermented Food: Pickled foods that are fermented (as opposed to being brined in vinegar, like this), make a great addition to your diet, but it can be hard to eat enough of these foods often enough to get the benefits you’re looking for. One great benefit to fermented foods is that the vitamins naturally in the cabbage (or other veggie) are enhanced during fermentation. This is also the most natural way to consume probiotics, so eat up!
A few more tips:
- Take a probiotic of some sort every day! It will take a week or so for the probiotics to start making changes in your gut, and you have to keep a constant source. This is one of the main benefits of taking capsules over food products.
- Read the bottle! Most probiotics (even the capsules) need to be stored in the fridge after opening.
- You can double up! Take a capsule everyday, and drink some yogurt, too, if you’re feeling like your digestive system could use some extra help. :-)
- Taking antibiotics? They can do some damage to your digestive system, so take some probiotics to even things out.
- If you’re particularly stressed out, not sleeping well, or eating poorly; compensate with probiotics. You’re body will need all the help it can get!
- If you stop feeling the benefits from your probiotic, try changing things up. Some doctors recommend switching probiotics every couple months or so.
- Check out your choice on consumerlab.com to make sure that you’re picking a quality brand. Not all probiotics live up to the benefits claimed on their labels!
- If you’re going on a trip and planning on eating some exotic foods, you may want to pack the probiotics.
- Keep an eye out for probiotics in your beauty products! The probiotics heal skin, prevent eczema, fight dryness and more. When a homemade face mask calls for yogurt, like this one, consider a yogurt with added probiotics!
- If you have leaky gut or Celiac disease, talk to your doctor before taking probiotics. You don’t want to mess with a fragile system!
Do you take probiotics?