How Do I Choose the Right Probiotic for Me?
Posted: Feb 12, 2019
Everyone seems to be talking about probiotics these days. You can’t even watch TV without having Jamie Lee Curtis tell you how great she feels after eating her special probiotic yogurt.
But what exactly are probiotics anyway? Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are the same or similar to the bacteria you currently have in your digestive tract. Your gut is full of a host of different bacteria (also called your gut microbiome) that are responsible for many important functions.
Your gut bacteria digests your food, helps protect you from bad bugs and other pathogens, boosts your immunity, produces certain vitamins from the foods you eat and helps keep your mood happy and upbeat.
Why do I need to take probiotics? Why should you take more probiotics when your gut is already filled with bacteria? If you’ve ever taken antibiotics you have killed off some of your natural gut bacteria. The gut works best when it has lots of different kinds of beneficial bacteria. Taking probiotics, whether in food or supplement form, is a way to diversify and increase the bacteria in your gut.
The probiotics that you ingest travel to your intestines, colonize there and begin their work to keep you happy and healthy.
What kind of foods contain probiotics? Many kinds of foods naturally contain helpful bacteria. A high quality, plain yogurt with active live cultures is an easy way to add beneficial probiotics to your diet.
In addition, fermented foods are a delicious way to add probiotics to your meals. Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles are a great addition to diversity your gut microbiome.
If you’ve ever had kombucha or miso soup, you’ve been ingesting probiotics and you didn’t even know it.
If you can’t stand probiotic foods, you can still add to your gut bacteria with probiotic supplements.
Choose a high-quality brand that lists the number of live microbes and exact strains of probiotics in the supplement.
Look for one containing at least 1 billion colony forming units (CFUs). Anything with a lower CFU and it won’t be potent enough to make a difference.
Common types of probiotics are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus.
Each type of probiotic strain works better for specific health issues. If you want to take probiotics for a specific health issue like GI support, constipation or immunity, look on the label for those specific issues.
When buying a supplement, also look at the expiration dates - remember you’re dealing with active microbes so freshness does matter.
How to get started with probiotics
It may take some trial and error to find the right supplement for your particular health issues. Give each one at least two weeks to work on your gut. If you still aren’t seeing improvement, try another strain, another brand or a higher CFU.
Most probiotics should be taken on an empty stomach for best results.
If you follow these guidelines, you should be well on your way to better gut health in no time!
Carolyn Simmons believes that you can live the happiest life when you live the healthiest life. You can find her blogging at Empty Nest Bliss