Probiotics are everywhere! We see them in the grocery store, the health food store, and in our friends’ cupboards, but are they where they need to be?
In our digestive tract?
Probiotics have been and continue to be a part of the conversation when it comes to supplying the body with what it needs for a healthy digestive tract.
Probiotics are microorganisms taken into the body in order to bring about positive changes.
Hundreds of species of bacteria make their home in our digestive tracts. These species equate into billions and billions of bacteria. These bacteria can be either amicable or somewhat hostile.
Why take probiotics?
Probiotics are there to keep the peace so to speak.
The microorganisms that make up a probiotic elevate the levels of the amicable bacteria and at the same time reduce the hostile critters to a manageable level. I say manageable because when there are too many they can create chaos in the body in the form of:
- Intestinal cramps
These are the most common symptoms.
However, if left unattended an excess of these less than desirable bacteria can lead to:
- Malabsorption issues
- Undesirable weight loss/weight gain
- The inability to clot blood
- Leaky gut
- Candida Related Complex- inflammation, compromised immune system
How do we get so many of these bacteria?
Pretty much from living!
Contributing factors include:
- Taking prescription drugs
- Too many antibiotics (either from the doctor or in animal products)
- Unhealthy diet choices (sugar, processed foods, coffee, alcohol)
The good thing about these “bad” bacteria is they are necessary to break down:
- Food particles which are undigested
While having some “bad” bacteria is obviously necessary, taking an effective probiotic seems like a good idea.
What makes a good probiotic?
There are some conflicting opinions on what makes up a good probiotic. The following factors seem to make up the consensus of what a good probiotic should be.
Look for a probiotic which:
- Is refrigerated
- Contains billions of live organisms (the more problems you have the higher the number should be)
- Is resistant to bile
- Has the capability to attach to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract
- Imitates the body’s bacteria
- Is made up of a combination of different strains of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria
- Lists streptococcus thermophiles on the ingredient list
In addition to these criteria for an effective probiotic is there anything else that can be done to maintain a healthy bacterial balance?
Surprise! It’s your diet!
As usual what we put into our body is a huge factor in the kind of health we experience. A diet centered on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes creates a desirable environment for bifidobacteria to proliferate. On the other hand, a diet focused on animal products creates the opposite result. These foods produce an arena for bacterial overgrowth.
Hopefully you are already taking a good probiotic, and if not, are on your way to the store right now!