Good bacteria are not only beneficial but critical to our health. Today on the podcast we discussed the importance of eating and including the right foods (prebiotics!) to encourage good bacteria and reducing bad bacteria.
Most of us, if not all of us, have heard about probiotics at one point or another. Perhaps some of you are already taking a probiotic. What I find, however, is that there is some confusion as to the why’s and how’s behind probiotics. Knowing a bit about this subject before stocking up your cupboard or refrigerator with probiotics, is not only smart, but it can prevent problems you may not have had before taking the probiotic.
What is a probiotic and why include them?
In the simplest terms, a probiotic is bacteria – a good bacteria that compete for survival next to bad bacteria. By including probiotics into our diet, we are increasing the colony of good bacteria and reducing and minimizing the bad bacteria in our bodies that are the cause of upset stomachs, irritable bowel problems, gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation – even, as some have suspected – tooth decay!
Probiotics are nothing new to some cultures – with a heavy emphasis on naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, some cultures enjoy the benefits of probiotics on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the sauerkraut you purchase at your local supermarket has been pasteurized and/or canned, leaving the probiotics dead. Search instead for raw, unpasteurized, unheated sauerkraut in order to get the beneficial live probiotics. Or, better yet, do a search online for an easy sauerkraut recipe – it’s not as difficult as you might think and the flavor is outstanding!
How do I know if I need probiotics and how do I choose?
I believe all of us need probiotic exposure/consumption on a regular basis. If getting live and beneficial probiotics from fermented foods is an issue, searching for a quality and reputable brand of probiotic supplements is crucial, since some supplements are actually dead probiotics – and introducing dead bacteria into your digestive tract will do absolutely nothing.
Or – even worse – some are contaminated with bad bacteria! Consuming that on a regular basis is simply wasting your money and supplying your digestive tract with more unhealthy bacteria.
So how to choose….
You get what you pay for – if you’re purchasing your probiotics on the highly discounted sale rack or 4-for-the-price-of-1 deal, you can count on a dead product.
Look for a high dose number – getting a product that has at least 8 billion/dose, but going higher is highly recommended. Some over the counter brands have a measly 2 billion/dose and that’s simply not going to do anything. What if a brand doesn’t have a dosage list (or you can’t find the amount when researching) – don’t bother with the brand.
More is not better – if you see a brand that claims to have 10+ strains and the count is somewhat vague, I would be suspicious of fictitious claims. I would trust a brand that has fewer strains (1-6) with 8+ billion/dose instead.
What to look for?
Look for these two strains: Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium.
If you’re healthy, have a healthy digestive function without any gut issues and you make or purchase unpasteurized fermented foods that you eat several times a week, your probiotic colony is probably in great shape and does not require the addition of a supplement.
If you’re unhealthy and are experiencing digestive issues, you need to follow the steps in the podcast to change your diet PLUS the addition of a quality probiotic supplement. However, the last thing you want to do is dive straight into fermented foods and/or getting the highest dose of a quality probiotic supplement. This would more than likely make the physical surroundings of your gut turn upside down and make you feel very sick. Introduce the fermented foods slowly – 1 teaspoon once a day for a few days, if all feels good, continue to increase every few days or ever week.
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Photo by Jessica To’oto’o on Unsplash
On the show, we discuss fitness, nutrition, and how to find a work life balance for the working professional. We interview other influencers and wellness pros that share powerful motivation and inspiration so you can hustle and achieve your goals! But most importantly we keep things real and we'll make you laugh so you can stay sane in the process.