The use of probiotics has skyrocketed over the last year. While it may seem like the new trend, research is confirming their benefits in all areas of health.
Before we can understand probiotics, we need to understand our microbiome. The intestinal tract is home to about 100 trillion different organisms, bacteria and yeast. They have many functions within the body, including supporting digestion and nutrient absorption, producing vitamins (vitamin K, B vitamins), boosting the immune system and minimizing inflammatory reactions. 70 percent of our immune system lies in our digestive tract, and our gut can even produce serotonin, the chemical responsible for mood regulation. Ideally, we want a ratio of 85 good to 25 bad organisms. If this ratio becomes imbalanced, problems arise and we become sick.
The biggest offenders to an imbalance are diet and the use of medications like antibiotics, acid blockers and anti-inflammatories. Think of your gut as the soil and the bacteria as the seeds— if the soil is lacking in nutrients from poor diet and medication use, the seeds won’t grow. This is where probiotics come in, as they are a form of soluble fiber that feeds the good bacteria. The only way to repopulate the gut with good bacteria is by switching to a whole food, low-sugar diet and incorporating more probiotics.
One way to get probiotics is by eating fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, kombucha, miso or sauerkraut. For those that don’t tolerate these foods well, oral probiotics are available. There are a lot of probiotic products on shelves today, making it pretty daunting to know what to take. The key is to look for the listed bacterial strains and colony forming units (CFUs). Generally, multi-strain products with a minimum of 10 billion CFU are recommended.
Probiotics hold the key to a better digestive system, stronger immunity and improved mental health. Conditions like eczema, autoimmune diseases, frequent colds and candida overgrowth are all issues that arise from poor gut health. Everyone can benefit from incorporating more of these marvelous bacteria into their diet!