All You Need to Know About Probiotics
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You have probably heard that advice before, right?
Maybe the promise of better gut health even convinced you to listen to the yogurt marketing and you started eating yogurt every morning with your granola.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s unlikely your morning cup of yogurt is doing anything for your digestive or gut health. More and more research, such as this study out of the University of Toronto is telling us what common sense probably could have: The dose of probiotics in yogurt is too low to provide any kind of health benefits.
Let’s back up for a second and consider what probiotics are:
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts—the good kind of bacteria, as they say—that have been shown to improve gut health and digestion. Further, there are evidence probiotics are helpful for oral health, urinary health, vaginal health, and skin health, namely in improving conditions like eczema, and even for improving your mood. The bad kind of bacteria, on the other hand, decreases dopamine levels, which negatively affect your mood.
With that being said, you can get probiotics from food sources, such as yogurt, as well as from other fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, pickles, and kefir. But, you don’t get enough.
Probiotics are measured by their colony-forming unit, or CFU, count. In short, this number refers to the number of live microorganisms in any given food source or supplement. For yogurt to consider itself a probiotic yogurt, it needs to have 1 billion CFUs, for example. And while that sounds like a big number, it’s not.
You can buy probiotic supplements in pill form that contain as many as 100 billion CFUs, so yogurt’s 1 billion CFUs pale in comparison.
In general, the higher the CFU count the better chance it has of helping heal your gut.
Three Populations Who Can Particularly Benefit From Probiotics Supplement
1. Post Antibiotics Treatment:
One particularly important time to take probiotics is if you have been on antibiotics, as antibiotics kill the bacteria, both good and bad, in your cut, and this can leave you with a weak immune system. In this sense, probiotics can help you rebuild these bacteria in your gut and rebuild your immune system.
2. Digestive Diseases:
Anyone suffering from diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease might consider a probiotic supplement for a similar reason: IBS leads to gut flora imbalances, and probiotics can help restore this by inhibiting harmful bacteria from growing.
3. Bad Gut Health
How do I know if my gut health is poor?
A healthy gut has the right balance of the good and bad bacteria and the right pH balance. A less healthy gut does not have the right balance, and if left too long, it can lead to various metabolic diseases and digestive disorders, and even Type 2 diabetes.
Four Signs Your Gut Health Could Improve
- Poo: Healthy poo is soft blobs with clear edges. If your poo often consists of hard lumps that look like nuts, fluffy poo with mushy edges, or you often have diarrhea, this could be a sign of poor gut health.
- Colds and cases of flu: If you’re often sick, it could also be related to your gut, because your gut is linked to your immune system.
- Dry skin: Dry skin, or conditions like dermatitis and acne, can also be a sign of poor gut health.
- Weight gain: If your gut health is poor, you won’t absorb and digest your food as effectively, making you more likely to gain weight. At the very least, it makes losing weight difficult.
Probiotics for Gut Health
1. Avoid inflammatory foods
This includes gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, legumes, vegetable oils, processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol.
2. Eat Fiber
Fiber has frequently been linked to better gut health. Some foods high in fiber include fruits like avocados, berries, melons, grapefruit, oranges, vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and artichokes and carrots, as well as nuts like almonds and pistachios and seeds like flaxseeds.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
While chugging apple cider vinegar doesn’t sound appealing, it can easily be used in salad dressings and has been shown to help your stomach produce more stomach acid, due to its acetic acid content. This helps you absorb your food better.
4. Bone Broth
Bone broth has commonly been shown to improve gut health due to its collagen content. Collagen is required for connective tissue function, which helps seal and heals your gut, especially useful for those with the leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut happens when the small intestine is damaged and so indigested food particles, toxic waste, and bacteria leak through the intestines into the bloodstream.
An L-Glutamine supplement has been shown to help repair your gut’s mucus lining. It has also been linked to decreased inflammation.