Probiotics have become a more recent and and necessary agent in our diet. As more and more processed foods make their way into our culture and our diet, our systems have become more unbalanced and in need of support. Especially with the holiday season your senses overload, stress levels, or food intake may be up more than normal... perhaps the ideal to time to learn more about to tuning in and finding harmony.
Do you feel out of balance? Have you ever used antibiotics? Do you experience symptoms like IBS, chronic bloating or an upset stomach? How about any symptoms that appear unrelated to your gut, like asthma or allergies, adult acne or eczema, mood disorders or a weak immune system? If any of these ring true for you then you could benefit from probiotics and should read on!
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases, but your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy, digest food properly, and repopulate your gut with the natural bacteria that are supposed to be there. This natural bacteria can be depleted from things like, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic use, anti-inflammatory drug use, vaccination, environmental influences and a poor diet. Lack of this natural bacteria can lead to digestive disorders, food allergies and auto-immune disorders.
It's only been since about the mid-1990s that people have wanted to know more about probiotics and their health benefits. Doctors often suggest them to help with digestive problems. And because of their newfound fame, you can find them in everything from yogurt to chocolate.
How do they work?
- They help protect us: when you lose "good" bacteria in your body (like after you take antibiotics, for example), probiotics can help replace them and keep your gut lining healthy.
- They can lower the amount of "bad" bacteria in your system that can cause infections or other problems.
- They can help balance your "good" and "bad" bacteria to keep your body working like it should.
- The healthy balance of bacteria assists with the regulation of gastrointestinal motility and maintenance of gut barrier function.
- Can help reverse digestive disorders like: IBS, chronic abdominal pain or bloating, diarrhea and other unsavory symptoms.
- Create a healthy impact on our immune system. By maintaining the correct bacteria balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent ailments, such as: Chron's disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balanced is restored, so it's never too late.
What Types are There?
Many types of bacteria are classified as probiotics. They all have different benefits, but most come from two groups. Below are some suggestions; ask your doctor about which might best benefit you.
Probiotic Food: In general I recommend starting with probiotic foods vs supplements first to see if you notice any positive changes. Foods like: cultured yogurt or Kefir milk, or fermented foods like cabbage or sauerkraut are all great choices to start with.
Lactobacillus. This may be the most common probiotic. It’s the one you’ll find in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhea and may help with people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
Supplements: these can also work great and make it easier to make sure you get your daily does. Align is a common brand many GI doctors will recommend. Whole Foods and Costco also carry carry good brands. When reading the labels make sure it says "contains billions of live cultures" as though will provide the most benefit. Most people find it is also best to take them with a meal, rather than on an empty stomach.
How to use Them Safely
The FDA regulates probiotics like foods, not like medications. Unlike drug companies, makers of probiotic supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or that they work. So read your labels to ensure you are getting a good product.
In general, probiotic foods and supplements are thought to be safe. Mild side effects might include upset stomach, gas or bloating for the first couple of days after you start them. In general they are thought to do much more good than harm, but since each person is unique it is best to seek your Doctors opinion on the correct product and dosage for you.
I hope this enlightens you on the symptoms that lead one to seek probiotics and what some of the options are. It is never too late to seek a solution to any imbalances you may be experiencing; life isn't meant to live in discomfort and relief is just around the corner.
Health is Wealth