Tired of stomach troubles?
Probiotics for gut health may be the answer.
To stay healthy, your digestive system needs "good" bacteria to thrive. Probiotics in particular — in both food and supplement form — are known to help maintain digestive health and bolster the immune system.
If you regularly deal with stomach issues, probiotics may help get you back on track.
By taking probiotics, you can rebalance your gut flora, which requires a perfect equilibrium of bacteria. Some studies report regular probiotic use may even reduce your chance of catching a cold!
Need to know more about why taking probiotics is a win for your health?
Read on to learn about how probiotics may be the missing piece to your better gut health.
What is a Probiotic?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that may promote good health, but especially good gut health. Probiotics are found in supplements or foods and contain the “good” bacteria similar to what naturally occurs in the human gut.
If you’re a regular user of probiotics, you’ll find your gut stays happy by preventing the overgrowth of harmful organisms like candida.The most common bacteria you’ll find in probiotics are the species of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium.
On top of being helpful for a variety of gastrointestinal conditions, probiotics can restore gut balance after an illness or antibiotic round, which may have wiped out your good gut flora.
Why Gut Balance is Important
Most people take probiotics because of the positive impact they find it has on their digestive health and overall well-being.
Science backs it up, too.
In fact, most scientists would agree that about 80 percent of your body’s immunity starts with the bacteria in your gut. If it’s not healthy, you’re unlikely to feel healthy.
Research in gut health studies is uncovering how gut microbes influence our immune systems. Researchers are finding the tiny microscopic organisms inside our intestines may be responsible for keeping us feeling well overall.
Plus, a healthy gut means a more active digestive system, along with reduced inflammation and swelling.
Research shows that a healthy gut may also lead to a healthier, longer life.
Why Take Probiotics?
Ready to reset your gut? Offset bad bacteria with the good ones with a high-quality dose of daily probiotics.
You may be wondering if you really need to add another supplement to your current diet. If you regularly suffer from gastrointestinal distress and don’t love fermented foods, you may find probiotic supplements are helpful.
A few more reasons to use probiotics for gut health:
It Improves Digestive Issues
A 2017 study published in the American Family Physician journal found probiotics are safe for ingestion by infants, children, adults, and older patients. Additionally, that same study found evidence that probiotics can help conditions like ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
It Makes Your Gut Happy
There are quite a few reasons your gut may be unhappy: an illness, certain medication usage, poor diet, and more. These can cause a major imbalance of bad bacteria while wiping out the good ones. Probiotics are a safe way to return healthy harmony to your gut.
Restores Your Gut Microbiome After Antibiotics
Certain antibiotics can really mess up your gut. Whether you took them for a sinus infection or other health concerns, your doctor may encourage you to increase your probiotic usage. This is because antibiotics wipe the infection out of your body, and along with it goes all of the good bacteria, too. This can lead to yeast infections if you don’t rebalance your gut quickly after an antibiotic round.
May Reduce the Number of Colds You Catch
According to some studies, regular usage of probiotics may help prevent colds. An article published in the Pharmacy Times reported that specific probiotic strains can help certain individuals stave off colds and the flu.
Note: Some individuals with certain health issues should NOT take probiotics. This includes people who are severely immune-compromised. Always ask your physician prior to starting a probiotic if it’s safe for you to do so based on your health history.
Try These Probiotics for Gut Health
Excited to get your gut health back on track? Luckily, it’s easy to start including probiotics as a part of your everyday diet. You’ll find probiotics come in a variety of forms from chewable tablets to yogurts and organic shots to other foods.
Here are some probiotic foods to try out:
- Kefir water
- Aged cheeses (Gouda, cottage cheese, cheddar, etc.)
Note: Yogurt naturally contains probiotics, but you’ll want to check your yogurt label for the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus. Look for “live and active cultures” on the label!
Not a fan of the fermented items listed above? Consider alternative methods like:
- GUT CHECK, our apple cider vinegar and probiotics shot
- Refrigerated probiotic capsules
Whether your gut feels a bit funny or you’re coming off a strong round of antibiotics, probiotics can get your digestive system back on track.
The “ideal number” of microorganisms you need for your probiotic? 100 million to 1 billion. Check the label to make sure yours has a high enough microorganism count!
When to Take Probiotics
So, now that you know why taking probiotics is good for you, you’re probably wondering when to take it for the best benefit. If you’re eating regular probiotic foods — say pickles for a snack — any time of day is fine.
As far as specific strains of probiotics, here’s what the research says:
Saccharomyces boulardii - Certain research indicates that these microorganisms, in particular, will do well whether you take it with or without a meal.
- Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium - These two strains will do better in your gut if taken 30 minutes prior to mealtime.
If you’re taking a probiotic supplement, be sure to read the label to see what the manufacturer’s recommendation is for the best results. Some may need to be taken near a meal — especially if you have a sensitive stomach — while others are best taken on an empty stomach. Above all, be consistent with your probiotic intake for the best benefits!
Remember Probiotic Quality Matters
Like other supplements and healthy foods, it’s important to remember that quality matters. Certain probiotics may get destroyed by stomach acid before you ever see any benefit. The most resistant ones that can move past your stomach acid tend to be Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Enterococci. You may find you’ll have to try several brands before you settle on a probiotic you really love.
When shopping probiotics for gut health, remember:
Take high-quality probiotics - Purchase your probiotics cold, always. Look for high microorganism counts in the billions. CFU, which stands for colony-forming unit, is the number of microorganisms that you’ll find in each serving you’re taking.
- Read labels carefully - If you have certain food allergies, be sure that the probiotic you’re getting doesn’t have allergens in it. Some may contain dairy.
Always check the expiration - Because of the live cultures with probiotic supplements and foods, it’s important to make sure it’s as fresh as possible.
- Talk to your doc about probiotic options - If you have any specific health concerns, consult your doc first. You can also set up an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist to better understand how to incorporate more healthy food-sourced probiotics into your diet.
Most importantly, refrigerate your probiotics. Do this to maintain the freshness and effectiveness of your probiotic. Here’s to a happy, healthy gut!
Why do you take probiotics? What’s your favorite probiotic brand? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Want to learn more about gut health? Check out our post, “What’s the Importance of Gut Health?” to discover how your immunity is determined by your gut!