Probiotics are living microorganisms that are similar to those microorganisms found in the intestines. For a microorganism to be considered a probiotic, it needs to have evidence that it includes a health benefit which means probiotics have be proven to have lots of health benefits! There are several different strains of probiotics and understanding what each one does gives us a better understanding on how it will affect our bodies.
Probiotics have been found to help with:
• Eliminating toxins from the colon
• Increasing nutrient absorption
• Urinary infections
• Vaginal infections
• Supporting the immune system
• Breaking down lactose
• Dry skin
• Skin aging
(That’s a pretty solid list, huh?)
Common Probiotics are found in fermented foods. Here are some common examples:
• Cottage Cheese
• Pickles (fermented NOT made with vinegar)
• Sauerkraut (unpasteurized)
Why take probiotics?
In many cases people take probiotics because of the perceived health benefit they bring to our systems. Many people start taking probiotics because they are on antibiotics. Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat bacterial infections by decreasing the growth of or completely killing off the bacteria causing the infection. Unfortunately, these antibiotics also kill off all the good bacteria in our gut that we want to keep happy and healthy. So this bacteria needs to be replenished after taking antibiotics and probiotics are the best way to do that.
Supplement vs. Natural Foods
Is it better to consume a supplement that contains a probiotic or just eat probiotic foods? It depends on you! Many probiotic supplements are both sweetener and allergen free. No dairy, soy, or gluten – so they can virtually fit in any kind of diet you are working with! Natural foods that contain probiotics such as kombucha and yogurt often contain a handful of fermented sugars. Although in doses these kinds of foods and drinks are beneficial, consuming too much fermented sugar can actually be harmful. It is all about finding a balance. If you can incorporate a eating schedule where you are regularly injecting probiotic foods without overdoing it, great! If you don’t enjoy eating foods with probiotics, try a supplement!
My Experience with Probiotics
After a couple weeks of taking a probiotic supplement daily, I started to see some benefits for myself. My skin was not as dry as it once was and I felt significantly less bloated after eating meals….I mean, really, who likes feeling bloated?!? So with these two benefits alone I decided that for the time being, probiotics were a supplement for me.
Do some research before regularly consuming a probiotic. Consider consumption factors that work with your lifestyle. If you eat probiotic rich foods on a daily basis, you most likely don’t need to take a supplement. If you are looking to address more specific health issues you are experiencing, a certain strain of probiotics found in supplements may be the answer. At the end of the day having a balanced diet of probiotic supplements and natural foods could do wonders!