Many people know that probiotics are good, but few actually know what they are and why we need them. Today, we'll take a quick look at probiotics, the sources where you can get them, and some of the most common signs that you need a probiotic.
So, What Are Probiotics?
If you don't know the term probiotic, you're likely familiar with the term 'antibiotic.' Antibiotics are pharmaceuticals designed to kill bad bacteria in your body. Probiotics, on the other hand, are good bacteria that can help balance the population of microorganisms living in your digestive tract.
Why does that matter? As researchers are discovering, the health of your gut is now being tied to countless other organs and systems in your body. Now experts believe the gut plays a role in your brain, heart, and skin function, affecting everything from your sleep, mood, cognitive function to your physical appearance. On top of that, scientists believe that around 70% of your immune system is in your gut (source.)
To have a well-functioning gut you need a healthy balance of gut bacteria. This is where probiotics enter the picture. Having the right amount of good bacteria can help your digestive function, and have a major overall impact on your health and immunity.
Where You Can Get Probiotics
There are generally two sources where you can get probiotics: food and supplements. When it comes to food, there are several options you can find at the grocery store. Here is a list of high-probiotic foods: Kambucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, miso, kefir, cottage cheese, tempeh, apple cider vinegar and kimchi.
In terms of supplements, there is a multitude of different kinds of probiotic capsules available. In an upcoming article, we will go over some of the basics of choosing a probiotic and how to find the one that works best for you.
Top 5 Signs You Need Probiotics
Most people can benefit from probiotics on a daily basis. Our modern lifestyle and diet can contribute to an imbalance in our digestive tract. Overuse of antibiotics, highly processed foods, stress and a number of other factors can all cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria in our gut.
Yet for certain people, probiotics may be of special benefit. Here is a list of 5 signs that you may need probiotics.
1. If You’ve Used Antibiotics — If you’ve used antibiotics—and most of us have—you may benefit from consuming probiotics. Antibiotics are designed to kill bad bacteria; the issue, however, is that they wipe out good bacteria in the process. Taking probiotics could help reintroduce healthy microorganisms into your gut.
2. Digestive Issues — After eating do you feel bloated or sick? Do you feel wiped out after a meal? If you struggle with food intolerances and gut issues, then a probiotic could boost your overall gut function.
3. Yeast Infections — Yeast infections, or Candida as its also called, is in of itself a sign that there is some overgrowth of bad bacteria in the body (source.) Probiotics are a possible avenue to realign the balance of bacteria in your body.
4. Weak Immunity — If your immune system is low, then probiotics could be a first, easy step to take to build up your system. As we said earlier, around 70% of your immune system is located in your digestive tract. In light of that, creating a healthy gut microbiome could be a key to boosting your immunity.
5. Skin Issues — As we mentioned earlier, there is an important connection between the function of the gut and the skin. Both of them are involved in the process of detoxification. So, if you struggle with skin issues, it’s quite possible that there could be underlying gut issues as well. Taking steps to improve your diet and supplement it with probiotics could be a way to help improve the overall health and appearance of your skin.
Final Thoughts on Probiotics
As you can see, probiotics are important because they feed into the health of your digestive tract. The more researchers learn, the more they discover about how the gut is tied to many other aspects of our health. Stay tuned for more articles in this series to learn about probiotics and brain health.