When we think of things that are good for our bodies, bacteria doesn't tend to be one of them. After all, these microorganisms are what we try to eliminate when we clean our homes and food. Why would we want to ingest them? But despite the bad rep that bacteria gets, there are actually a ton of great things that certain friendly bacteria can do for your body. These bacteria are called probiotics.
Previously, we wrote about ‘Stealth Weight Loss: Making the Mindless Margin Work for You". Getting and staying isn’t just about cutting foods out from your diet — it’s about mindful habits and proper nutrition. Probiotics play an important role in promoting and maintaining that level of nutrition. Read on below for a closer look at these probiotics, and what they can do for you and your journey to better health.
What are probiotics?
While we do mention above that friendly bacteria are considered probiotics, probiotics as a term isn't simply limited to bacteria. According to researchers from Iowa State University, certain yeasts can also be counted as probiotics. Saccharomyces boulardii, for example, is a yeast that's well- known to ease the symptoms of gastrointestinal track disorder. The New York Times writes that there are benefits to probiotics— in certain contexts, of course. Some probiotics have been found to do wonders in alleviating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), for example. Still others have been found to reduce the risk of diarrhea in adults and reduce the risk of infection. Probiotics shouldn't be treated as medicine, however, and are not designated as such by the FDA.
Where can I find probiotics?
The Harvard Healthbeat reports that probiotics can be found in a variety of foodstuffs, but primarily in fermented food and in supplements. Fermentation is a natural process that produces lactic acid, which in turn creates an environment that preserves food and promotes the growth of healthy enzymes, vitamins, acids, and good bacteria. While fermentation doesn't sound that appetizing, it's actually a process that's integral to a lot of our favorite foods. Healthline outlines several foods rich in probiotics from a variety of cuisines, including fermented food and drink like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha. These foods have been found to have a ton of health benefits, precisely because they are probiotic-rich.
If you want your probiotics on the go, you can also choose to go down the supplement route. Brightcore states that supplements with probiotics can both support your digestive system and ensurethat you're getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients. There are tons of probiotic supplement options out there that come in both powder and capsule form, so you can choose which best fits your lifestyle.
How do I know what probiotics are right for me?
Picking and choosing the right probiotic can be tough, especially if you aren't sure where to start. As with any new addition to your diet, you have to make sure that you're consuming it in the proper amounts, that it comes from a safe source, and that it's something your body can process. There are several tips for ensuring that you're getting the most out of your probiotics. These include checking in with your doctor before taking probiotics, picking high-grade probiotics from quality sources, counting colony-forming units (CFUs) for the right dosage, and knowing how to store and use them. Probiotics aren't for everyone, and it's not likely that putting them into your diet will mean the end to all your gastrointestinal woes. However, they can be extremely helpful in maintaining and improving gut health and digestion. If you've gotten the all clear from your doctor and nutritionist and are looking to improve your digestion, making use of these healthy bacteria and yeasts may be the way to do it.