Your One-Stop Intro to Probiotics: What They Are, Why They Help, and Where to Get Them
This post is brought to you by New Chapter, which uses non-GMO whole-food ingredients to formulate vitamins and supplements that unlock each nutrient’s unique benefits.
At this moment, there are nearly 10 times more bacteria in your gut than cells in your body–and that’s a good thing. You’ve probably seen advertisements for yogurts that contain active cultures and probiotics, but why might you want to invite even more of these microorganisms into your body?
Why? Here’s a quick and easy intro to probiotics–what they are, how they help, and where to find them.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are tiny microorganisms (also known as “flora”) that work in the body to support your health. They help replenish the friendly bacteria living in your gut, living microorganisms that make up an important part of your body’s ecosystem, referred to as your “microbiome.” These healthy bacteria play an important part in producing vitamins and supporting your digestive health.
The function of your gut flora is so important that many scientists consider it to be a “forgotten organ.” When your body’s bacteria is off-kilter, it negatively affects your overall health. This bacterial imbalance has been linked to diseases such as type 2 diabetes, depression and obesity. Thankfully, you can find probiotics in supplements and certain foods in order to help restore balance to your gut.
What are the benefits of probiotics?
There are many different kinds of probiotics, and they can provide a variety of benefits. For those looking to support their overall health, maintaining a healthy gut flora can help in many different ways, including bowel regularity and the reduction of occasional gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Maintaining a healthy digestive system is an important part of a holistic wellness plan, which is why many people choose to incorporate a probiotic supplement and probiotic rich foods.
Where can I find probiotics?
You have two main options when it comes to buying probiotics: get them from specific kinds of foods or purchase them as a supplement.
Probiotics can be found in yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, and many kinds of fermented vegetables, including sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles. Not all yogurt is created equal, though. Many commercial yogurt brands are processed in a way that kills the probiotics, so be sure to look for a label that says the yogurt contains active cultures or probiotics. You can also make your own kefir using raw milk and starter granules, available online or at your local health food store.
The quickest way to increase your probiotic intake is by taking a supplement, which you can also find online as well as in specialty health food stores and drugstores. When choosing a brand, be sure to do a little consumer research on their reputation. Product reviews and organizations like ConsumerLab can be a good resource, and you can always ask your health care provider for a recommendation.
When doing your own research, keep these tips in mind:
- Look for a supplement that advertises the clinically studied or clinically validated strains that are shelf stable through the life of expiration. We love New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora, which delivers 5 billion CFU of probiotics, plus 5 billion CFU of beneficial yeast to help replenish healthy gut flora and promote digestive health (Bonus: They also use only DNA-tested probiotic strains with clinically studied results.
- It’s also a good idea to research which strains of probiotics aid your specific symptoms to ensure you choose the best supplement for your gut flora. For example, lactobacillus bacteria is known to help with diarrhea.
- Keep in mind that there is a difference between probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics; the former refers to the bacteria themselves. Prebiotics refer to the fuel that probiotics need to do their job and postbiotics are the byproduct of the probiotics doing their job.
- Remember, while there are many benefits to taking probiotics, the best way to support your gut flora is to pair supplements with regular exercise and a healthy diet!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.