Probiotics: Listen to Your Gut
Let's talk gut health.
By now I feel like everyone and their mom has heard that probiotics are important for good gut health, and good gut health is kind of the foundation for overall health. I’ve been taking a probiotic supplement daily for several years and swear by it. It keeps my gut and digestion happy, which keeps me happy.
But in case your probiotic knowledge is lacking, here's the lowdown.
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live in your intestine and do good things for your body. Often referred to as "helpful” bacteria, probiotics keep your gut healthy and happy to ensure the immune system functions well, which is important since 70% to 80% of your entire immune system resides in your gut! When probiotics are abundant in your body, it’s harder for illness-creating bacteria to get a foothold.
Plus, probiotics aid in a multitude of physiological functions:
increase energy levels
enhance nutrient absorption
regulate hormone levels
reduce yeast infection occurrences
support a healthy weight
boost your immunity
keep your gut healthy
improve appearance of your skin
For me, I can personally say I have seen and felt all of these benefits. And when I don't take my probiotic daily I can tell. In fact, anytime I'm feeling a little "off" - maybe I've been traveling, my diet hasn't been as clean as it usually is, my skin isn't looking too great, I've been drinking a lot of alcohol, etc. - I know it's time to up the probiotics. And right when I get back into my probiotic routine, my body instantly says THANK YOU. I swear, probiotics are the answer to so many problems.
If probiotics aren't a consistent part of your diet already... they should be. And they are so easy to incormporate since you can get them from foods.
Adding Probiotics to Your Diet
If you’d like to try adding more probiotics into your diet, reach for raw fermented and cultured foods. Some popular (and super tasty) probiotic-rich foods include:
Kombucha (my personal fav)
Quality probiotic supplements are another great option. When choosing a probiotic, make sure the formula includes the all-important supernatant, the medium the culture was grown in. The supernatant contains a whole slew of beneficial byproducts of the growth process, including vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants, as well as immune boosters. You’ll want to choose a brand that contains around10-20 billion organisms (or more), and one that says “live and active cultures” on the label, so you know you’re getting the good stuff. Consume daily to get the most out of your probiotic supplement.
There are lots of supplements to choose from but my personal go-to is the Probiotic Coconut Water from inner-ēco. This is a dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free living food made with non-GMO ingredients. It’s handcrafted and fermented in small batches in Colorado (yay for shopping local!) and each serving includes billions of the active cultures you need daily. I think a liquid supplement is always superior to a pill because it’s easier for your body to absorb. Plus, this stuff tastes great and I actually look forward to taking it each morning.
Even if you are incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet, it's nice to have a supplement just so you know you have your bases covered. I definitely take my supplement in addition to eating lots of probiotic rich foods, because the more the merrier in my book. You really can't overdo it or take too much but some people have said it upsets their stomach or has made them a little too regular (if you know what I mean). So if you are just getting started, maybe start adding a few servings at a time and work your way up.
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics
If you really want to step up your health game and enhance your probiotic friends, try feeding them with prebiotics, or “good” bacteria promoters. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that nourish the good bacteria in your gut to keep them healthy so they can fight off bad bacteria. Prebiotics are found in foods such as bananas, whole grains, honey, garlic and onions. Two to four servings of prebiotic-rich foods a day is typically recommended.
Do you eat probiotic-rich foods or take any supplements? Let me know in the comments below!