By VANESSA HAMPTON
The subject of probiotics is a hot topic these days and one in which I am frequently asked about. The amount of information out there on probiotics is extensive and can get overwhelming. Just like with any supplement, the amount of differing opinions on what one should and should not be taking; the benefits, the risks, the upside, the downside, the ….well, you know. It can be confusing. I am a firm believer that you should take the information available to you and then decide for yourself what is best for your body. So, here’s the skinny on probiotics to get you started.
Probiotics are a supplement that I personally take and believe strongly in the benefits of. I began taking one a number of years ago, but only because it was all the talk. Not because I really knew its purpose at the time. Now I take a probiotic because I understand fully how important it is to the health of my gut. However, to really understand why I believe it’s important, you first need to understand the basics about your gut.
Think of it like this. Your gut is like a city. It’s called your microbiome. The residents of Gut City are bacteria. Just like any city, there are the good guys and there are the bad guys. The good guys are the good bacteria. They are vital to a strong immune system, and healthy digestive system, and balance in hormones among other things. The bad guys are the bad bacteria. They are the ones responsible for wreaking havoc to the harmony of the city. Obviously, you want to have more good guys than bad guys, and you want to have the good guys fighting the bad guys. The biggest way to create more of the good guys (to feed the good bacteria in our system) is through our food choices.
Our diet is the main factor in determining the health of our gut. If we are continuously over eating foods that cause inflammation (such as processed sugars, fried foods, and refined flour), it can affect how well our body absorbs nutrients, as well as how we store fat (and in turn our body weight). Implementing a healthy diet is the first step to cleaning up Gut City. You can check out my article “Is Sugar Really That Bad For me” https://stylehomepage.com/body-balance-v-sugar-really-bad/ for a good place to start with manageable eating changes. Dr. Axe also offers some eating guidelines and more extensive information about our microbiome here: https://draxe.com/microbiome/.
The next step in helping our gut thrive is adding in a probiotic. Introducing a probiotic into your routine is like bringing in the military reserves to assist the local cops in Gut City. A probiotic is more of the good bacteria that is necessary to our gut health. This means that it will help support our digestive system in processing our food, help with issues such as Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and replace the good bacteria that antibiotics strip away from our gut when we are fighting illness.
So how do we decide which probiotic to take? There are a lot of choices out there. Over the counter options include probiotic supplements in the form of a pill, powder, or liquid. These are in addition to probiotics found in some foods like yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut. I wish I had an easy answer for you here, but the truth is there is no one-size-fits all probiotic. This means that, in order to find out which one makes the most sense for you in particular, you should consult with your doctor. What I can tell you for certain, however, is to do some homework on the makers of whatever supplement you decide to take.
There is a big difference in the quality of supplements that are being produced from one maker to the other. A low-quality supplement may not make any difference to your health, but one of high quality can be a game changer. Consumerlab.com is a research company whos mission is to find the best quality supplements for consumers. They also have a great e-newsletter that offers insight on many different supplements and how they are applicable to our health.
In the end, a probiotic is worth checking into. Take the time to talk to your doctor about which form and which kind of probiotic might be best for you based on your personal history. Your body will thank you because the health of our gut is truly essential to our whole-body health. #cleanupgutcity