You have probably heard more than a little bit of talk about probiotics in recent years. They have become the one of the most popular and widely recommended supplements by Holistic Nutritionists and Naturopaths - and for good reason! These pills are packed with beneficial bacteria that can promote a healthy gut, and help to alleviate many symptoms and conditions.
For my clients, I almost always recommend a probiotic supplement as part of their health plan because they can be a powerful tool in promoting overall health. For this week’s Friday Five, here are 5 reasons you should be taking a probiotic every day!
The purpose of probiotics is essentially to help our bodies re-populate the intestinal tract with beneficial bacteria. Over time, diet and lifestyle factors can cause the body to become overrun with bad bacteria, which can lead to problems such as digestive conditions (Constipation, IBS, IBD, Chrons, etc.), depression/anxiety, headaches, autoimmune conditions, candida overgrowth, poor brain function, skin conditions and more. Habits such as high sugar consumption, drinking alcohol, eating a diet high in animal products (meat, dairy) as well as un-managed stress can all cause an increase in harmful bacteria in the intestines. Taking a probiotic every day, along with eating probiotic foods are a great way to help your body regain the good bacteria and promote healthy digestion and overall health.
Here are some popular probiotic foods:
Yogurt (no sugar!)
By taking a probiotic supplement each day and allowing your intestinal tract to be healthy, you are directly impacting your immune system’s ability to function at it’s best. In fact, at least 70% of the bacteria in your gut is responsible for your immunity! When you have a healthy number of good bacteria available in your gut, it helps to prevent the “bad guys” from entering your blood stream, which is essentially what makes you sick with colds and flus.
In general, when you are having skin issues, whether it is a rash, acne, bumps, dryness, etc., it is due to an imbalance in your gut. This imbalance is usually some form of inflammation. What happens is that when your body senses that something isn’t right (a food allergy, a virus, bad bacteria), it will become inflamed and this inflammation will eventually show itself in the form of skin problems. By taking probiotics, you are improving the health of your gut so that it will be better able to fight off those viruses, bacteria, etc. and will not end up causing the inflammation that contribute to skin problems.
Improved Nutrient Absorption
Even if you already eat a healthy diet, if your gut is not healthy you may not be reaping the rewards of the nutrients you are ingesting. In order for you to be benefiting from the good food you are eating, your body needs to be able to properly absorb and use the nutrients. When your gut mucosa does not contain enough good bacteria, it cannot do so. Taking probiotics each day will help your body to produce digestive enzymes, which break down your food and help the body to absorb important nutrients, like protein, fats, folic acid and B vitamins.
As you may know, having high levels of cholesterol in your blood can contribute to your risk of heart disease. When you have too much cholesterol, you will develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels and over time, it will become difficult for your blood to flow properly. Along with other important diet and lifestyle changes, probiotics can help to reduce cholesterol. Essentially, when you take probiotics each day, your body will be better able to break down bile in your colon, which will prevent it from re-absorbing into your blood.
Tips on Buying Probiotics
I hope that I have convinced you that taking probiotics every day is extremely beneficial to your overall health! If you are new to probiotics, here are a few tips on what to look for when purchasing:
Overall, I recommend buying one that is of high quality, with no additives, and is either refrigerated or comes in individual tetra-packs. My favorite brand currently is this one Genuine Health. Check out their products here: https://www.genuinehealth.com/en-ca/products/gut-health-probiotics
The 3 most important strains are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Streptococcus faecium so make sure that your probiotic contains at least one, if not all of these.
Probiotics must be consumed every day in order to be effective.