Understanding the Benefits of Probiotics

Understanding the Benefits of Probiotics

As our culture strives for total health and wellness, it’s common to hear conversations about probiotics. Probiotics are living microorganisms that our body absorbs through supplements and fermented foods. Studies show that a large portion of our ailments derive from an imbalance of bacteria in our digestive systems. Because our health relies on a healthy balance of bacteria, health experts recommend a regular intake of probiotics.

How to Increase Probiotic Intake

As mentioned, these microorganisms are commonly found in fermented foods. Many of us eat them everyday and don’t even realize. Popular probiotics include:

-Kimchi

-Yogurt

-Pickles

-Kombucha

-Kefir

-Miso

During the fermentation process, the probiotics multiply. Before the fermentation process begins, probiotics are commonly found on the skin of produce and in dairy products like milk. Both good and bad bacteria are present prior to this process, so it’s important to create the perfect environment for probiotics to increase without multiplying bad bacteria. Therefore, it’s best to start with ingredients with very little bad bacteria.

In situations where we struggle to get probiotics through our diets, there are probiotic supplements. When choosing a probiotic supplement, it’s best to find one with at least five strains and one billion CFUs for optimal efficiency. During warmer months, it’s also possible to increase your probiotics by taking a walk in the grass barefoot or rolling around with your pet outdoors.

Probiotic Health Benefits

Improved Immunity

Probiotics have many health benefits. For one, they boost our immune system. Over 70 percent of our immune cells are located in our gut. When we consume enough probiotics, we have enough healthy gut flora to thrive and fight disease.

Our immune systems produce T cells and antibodies. These are what fight against disease and foreign objects. Adequate probiotic intake increases the production of both T cells and antibodies, making our immune systems strong.

Helps Clear Skin

For those of us dealing with skin conditions like acne, taking probiotics should help. Usually, inflammation-related skin conditions are caused by a disruption in gut microbe function. People who have digestive issues are more likely to suffer from conditions including rosacea, acne, and eczema. By taking probiotics, we can improve the appearance of our skin.

Improves Mental Health

Taking probiotics is just as important for mental health. Our minds and gut are connected by the gut-brain axis. Research shows that the gut also produces the same neurotransmitters as the brain. The majority of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for our mood and cognitive function, comes from our gut.

When our serotonin levels are off, we’re vulnerable to problems including anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Between two recent studies, patients that increased their probiotic intake improved Alzheimer symptoms, mood, and anxiety.

Things to Consider

When it comes to taking probiotics, we should speak to our healthcare providers about dosage. The average supplement dosage ranges between one and ten billion CFUs, which translates to one or two capsules, depending on the product.

In addition to taking probiotics, health experts recommend taking prebiotics. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that probiotics eat. By regularly consuming prebiotics, we ensure our probiotics work at an optimal level. Common prebiotic-rich foods include:

-Bananas

-Seaweed

-Flax seeds

-Garlic

-Onions

-Apples

-Asparagus

-Chickory root

-Plantain

Our bodies work hard to function everyday. By taking both probiotics and prebiotics, we give ourselves the essential building blocks necessary to be mentally and physically healthy. If you have allergies or health concerns, it’s best to speak to a healthcare provider before taking probiotics.