If gut health is one of your New Years resolutions, the probiotic bandwagon is one you'll be wanting to jump aboard quick smart.
You see, our gut is home to almost 2kg worth of bacteria - we're talking billions of teeny tiny micro-organisms living and growing within our tummies (aka gut microbiota). All the billions of bacteria within our bodies play different roles in supporting optimal function inside-out, and there are, in fact, approximately 10 bacteria for each single human cell in that bod of yours right now.
The beneficial bacteria in our guts are vital in keeping our entire bodies in balance, helping to support both digestive and immune health, and keeping the bad bacteria at bay.
But when that scale starts to tip, and the baddies start outweighing the beneficial bacteria? Yeah, not good. Constipation, wind and bloating, IBS, recurrent infections, eczema and other skin concerns, allergies, asthma and more could all be hinting towards a bacterial scale-tip.
W H Y P R O B I O T I C S?
Unfortunately the average Western diet (and lifestyle) is not conducive to optimal bacteria balance. Like, at all, seriously. And we need that balance in order for our digestive and immune systems (not to mention all the other systems throughout our bods) to function healthily.
Pro-biot-ics help to maintain and regulate healthy microbiota by supplementing beneficial bacteria populations, bringing the body back into balance. As we all know, a healthy digestive system is key to overall health; the word 'probiotic' literally translates to mean 'for life'. So: healthy gut = healthy life.
W H A T T O L O O K F O R
Opt for a good quality and high potency probiotic, with a strain of beneficial bacteria specific to your needs.
Review time: there are billions of bacteria in our bodies, all working differently to help us achieve health and balance. So strain specificity is key when it comes to selecting a probiotic.
For example, look for Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis if your aim is to help regrow your gut's beneficial bacteria colony. Opt for Lactobacillus rhamnosus if diarrhoea or eczema are grinding your gears, and Lactobacillus plantarum for an inflamed or irritable bowel.
A good, stable probiotic should be found (and kept in) the fridge; if exposed to fluctuating temperatures, some of the bacteria can activate too early, rendering them unviable by the time they actually reach your gut.
B O N U S P O I N T S
You're boosting, regrowing and nurturing for your gut microbiota. Well done! 10 points for Gryffindor!
Wanna make it 50 points? 100?
Adding probiotic foods to your diet can help to support beneficial bacteria regrowth. Fermented food and drink, such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kvass and miso, are all brilliant for optimising gut health, while raw goat's cheese is high in beneficial bacteria, including bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus.
References: Wellness Review by Metagenics, Dr. Axe.