What Exactly Are Probiotics?

& Why You Need Them

If probiotics aren’t something you incorporate into your daily routine, I hope that by reading this you’ll have a better understanding of why probiotics are so beneficial for your overall health.

Our bodies are comprised of trillions of bacteria, many being beneficial for the body such as probiotics. These bacteria are unique in each individual, and make up what is known as our microbiome. I like to think of it as an evolving ecosystem if you will. Many factors like the food we eat, the amount of sleep we get (or don’t get),  and the stress we’re under can all play a huge role in shaping our microbiome.

Why Now?

The biggest problem is, our diet and lifestyle today is much different than our ancestors. When comparing the modern day American diet to how we once lived, it’s a no brainer that our microbiome is going to be  much different than it once was. We eat highly processed foods, spend less time outside, experience high levels of stress, and are exposed to many hidden chemicals and added sugars. If you’re thinking, “Not me! I eat healthy!” – even when we try to maintain a healthy diet with veggies and lean meats, most of it will still contain traces of preservatives, chemicals and the enemy of probiotics: antibiotics.

Your gut health, or what’s happening in your ecosystem, has a huge influence on how well your immune system and metabolism can perform. One way to keep our microbiome functioning properly is to create a balanced environment, better known as symbiosis (the balance of gut flora should be approximately 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria). We can do this by providing our bodies with healthy gut bacteria aka probioticsProbiotics are live organisms that line the digestive tract and keep the gut and immune system running smoothly. Because 80% of our immune system is in the gut – it’s a no brainer that probiotics play such an important role in our overall health! They restore balance to our microbiome, and in turn keeping us healthy and feeling our best.

Where To Get Them

As I mentioned, there are a lot of environmental factors that can have an impact on your gut health. Sugar, alcohol, chemicals, and even aging can all play a huge role in the balance of your microbiome. There are a few different ways that you can consume your daily probiotics; many people choose to eat probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or the very popular Kombucha. The terms “active culture” or “contains live culture” will indicate that it contains a healthy dosage of probiotics.

Good news! Though dark chocolate might not contain probiotics – it was found to be an effective carrier from probiotics. Meaning, it can help them survive in extreme pHs of the digestive tract and carry them safely to the colon! Yay chocolate!

It can be hard to obtain the amount of probiotics your body needs through diet alone, another option is taking a probiotic supplement. This is something that I take every morning with my vitamins and since starting, I have noticed such a difference in my digestion and overall energy.

How to Choose the Right One

With tons of different brands and information on each little bottle – how in the world are you supposed to choose the one?! There are a few things to take into consideration when finding the best probiotic on the shelf:

The “Strains” – When reading the label and seeing ingredients such as “Bifidobacterium bifidum”  – you start to question whether or not that’s even english you’re reading. But don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to pronounce it – just understand that it is considered a strain and the more strains the better. You want to choose a probiotic that contains multiple strains to help with the multiple parts of the digestive tract. { Here is my favorite – Garden of Life Once Daily Women’s  – notice it has 16 different strains of probiotics! }

Shelf Stability – Probiotics are very sensitive to their environment. Fluctuating temperatures can be very harmful and even kill the healthy bacteria, leaving you with zero benefits and a waste of money. Although many probiotics are advertised and sold in the refrigerated section of the store, this might not be the best option.

Manufacturers know how important temperate is for their products, so they take many precautions while shipping and transporting. However, it’s a lot more difficult to keep that same temp while  you finishing shopping, drive home, and put them back into the fridge. Solution: shelf-stabile options! Choosing a shelf-stable formula will ensure that your are consuming the right amount of probiotics, even with temperature change.

Probiotics have rightfully earned the title, healthy gut bacteria. Whether you decide to get your probiotics through your diet, supplement, or both – it’s important to know what it is your taking and why your body might need it. I hope this helped clear up any confusion, spark your interest, and encourage you to give them a try. I know the term “bacteria” can be a bit scary – but remember, your body is mad up of these little microorganisms! – I’m not sure microorganism sounds much better lolol

Any questions? Be sure to drop a comment below!

{Check out my helpful resources: HyperBiotics and Probiotics: In Depth  }

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