Everyone knows that it’s important to eat healthy food. A healthy diet helps give your body what it needs to thrive. Eating poorly or consuming too many foods that are nutritionally deficient can actually lead to malnourishment, no matter what weight you are currently at.
Diet, however, isn’t the only thing that matters. If you want to get the most out of any dietary changes you need to make, you must also focus on your gut health. Gut health plays a huge role in how well your body can digest and process the foods that you eat. An unhealthy diet can actually hurt or disrupt your gut health as well, meaning that you’ll need to work on improving your digestive system before you can expect to experience the full benefit of the foods that you eat.
That’s where probiotics come into play. You’ve likely heard of probiotics at one point or another and may even know they’re used to help improve your health. How do they do that? What exactly are probiotics? This guide will help you understand everything you’ll ever need to know about probiotics and how to get started with incorporating them into your diet.
First Things First, Understanding the Gut Microbiome
The gut microbiome refers to over 200 species of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live within the intestines. While some of these microorganisms can pose a threat to your health, many are incredibly beneficial and essential for overall wellness. The delicate balance of these microorganisms plays a crucial role in maintaining good health. That delicate balance can be achieved by nourishing your body, giving it more of what it needs in terms of supplements, and of course, working to understand just what foods and the proteins attached to them cause gut issues in your body.
Understanding your individual gut microbiome is key since everyone’s will look slightly different. What you eat, how much you eat, and what your body needs in supplements will all differ. To improve gut health, then, you need to take a journey, not flip a switch.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms, typically bacteria, that have a beneficial impact on the host organism. In the context of human health, probiotics are often referred to as “friendly” or “good” bacteria because they can help support a healthy gut microbiome. This microbiome plays a critical role in many aspects of health, including digestion, immunity, and mental health. By increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut, you can help improve gut health and overall wellness. Some common sources of probiotics include fermented foods like yogurt or sauerkraut.
If you aren’t a fan of fermented foods, don’t worry. Not all fermented foods come in a jar, and technically many cheeses can contain probiotics as well. If you really want to make a difference, of course, you can also take probiotics in supplement form. Probiotics supplements are best taken with what’s known as prebiotics.
What About Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are food for the probiotics. They promote the growth and activity of these microorganisms, and this can improve gut health and overall wellness. Some examples of prebiotic-rich foods include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, whole grains, and oats. You can also take prebiotics as a supplement.
Taking prebiotics, either by changing up your diet or alternatively using a supplement, means cultivating a healthy gut. They’re just as essential as probiotics, in the same way you wouldn’t expect any species to not survive without food.
How to Get Probiotics
Probiotics aren’t for everyone. If you already have a balanced diet and a healthy gut, they won’t add to your efforts. Probiotics are also not a cure-all for all of your gut-related issues, especially if you’re dealing with a chronic health condition like IBS. That being said, many find positive benefits to introducing more probiotics into their diet, and the good news is that there are multiple ways to go about it.
One of the most effective ways to boost your gut’s population of healthy bacteria is with a probiotic supplement. You can take a quiz and then order probiotics online that will help you boost your gut health so that you can enjoy many wonderful benefits, from a reduction in gas and bloating all the way to improved vaginal health.
The diet impacts a huge number of your body’s systems, from your mental health to your sexual health. Ensuring your gut is as healthy as can be with probiotics is a good tactic, particularly if you aren’t eating a wide and varied diet.
Through Your Diet
You can also get the probiotics that you need from your diet. Do keep in mind that, even when it comes to the following recommendations, not every type of food is going to be a good fit for you.
Take yogurt, for example. Yogurt is a fermented food that should be packed full of live bacteria, but most yogurt you’ll find on your shelves isn’t a good source of probiotics. You’ll need to find a specialty brand nowadays to boost your gut health.
Similarly, many are actually intolerant to many common foods. Dairy is one of the biggest culprits that can cause minor issues in the digestive tract. These issues don’t mean you have to avoid dairy outright, but you should at least decrease your intake. A good switch, for example, is to swap out cow products with goat alternatives since goat milk has a lower lactose content.
If you’ve experienced gut issues and want to make a change, start with probiotics. Regardless of whether you increase your gut health through your diet or with supplements, it’s always important to track your symptoms and the results. If you’re ever unsure or don’t see any changes at all to issues like bloating, then it’s time to see a doctor. There are many health conditions that can interfere with gut health that will need medical intervention or at least supervision. For most, however, probiotics are a great tool to kickstart their gut health journey.