What are probiotics?
Probiotics are the “good” or “helpful” bacteria that live in our gut. They keep bad bacteria under control while manufacturing vitamins, strengthening your gut wall, and help with nutrient absorption. Your gut contains hundreds of different types of microorganism also called your “gut flora” or “microbiota”. The metabolic activities of your gut flora perform so much like an organ that some doctors even call it the “forgotten organ”.
Now that we know the importance of probiotics it is important to understand that not all the bacteria in our gut is the healthy kind. Diet plays a huge role in the amount of “healthy” bacteria you maintain in your gut and too much of the “unhealthy” stuff can lead to numerous diseases such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Where do we get probiotics?
Probiotic foods include:
In order for these above foods to actually contain probiotics that are still alive it is important that you ensure they were fermented at room temperature in a controlled and clean environment. Usually manufactures will make this known on the label and if it says very little about the fermentation process it probably does not contain a good source of probiotics. The two most common types of probiotics shown to be effective are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Look at the ingredient list on food packages for these probiotics.
How to choose the right supplements
Taking supplements are a good way to get digestion back on track if you’ve been experiencing gut issues. Probiotics are extremely sensitive to light and temperature so to ensure your getting the most for your money buy probiotics that are refrigerated. There are also many strains of probiotics and when purchasing one make sure the back reads a minimum of 5 strains (upwards of 8 being even better) and the number of colony-forming units (CFUs) are 5 billion or higher.
Probiotic check list:
Minimum 5 different strains listed on the back
Contains min. 5 billion CFUs
Prebiotics: One more thing you have to consider
Prebiotics are the fibre that feeds the good bacteria so that it is thriving! Thus, you should always include these foods in your diet when pairing them with a probiotic supplement or probiotic rich foods.
Prebiotic foods include:
· Dandelion greens