Most of us have heard of probiotics before. But what exactly ARE they? Why are they important? And should you be taking them?
Probiotics are microorganisms introduced into the body for their beneficial qualities. Or, that’s the dictionary definition. Let’s simplify it a bit- probiotics are live bacteria. But don’t let the word bacteria scare you- probiotics are what we consider good bacteria. Your body is FULL of bacteria, the good and the bad. Probiotics are helpful bacteria because they keep your fit healthy and in good working order. When you take antibiotics to get rid of bad bacteria that makes you sick, they inevitably also kill some good bacteria. Probiotics are not only beneficial for people who aren’t on antibiotics, but especially important for those who have taken antibiotics as it ensures their gut’s good bacteria is properly replenished. Probiotics are considered supplements, not drugs, therefore there’s only been limited studies done on them. However, the research performed has been good and shown promising outcomes. But wait- is that the only reason probiotics are good for you?
Not only do probiotics keep your gut healthy, but they also ensure your digestive system and your immune system stay healthy! Your lower gut contains microbes that aid you in digesting and processing food, fighting harmful bacteria, and regulating your immune system. An imbalance can cause some unpleasant physical symptoms, like diarrhea. Probiotics help reestablish healthy levels of the good bacteria in your lower gut, meaning they can help you recover from illnesses more quickly, stay healthy, and even possibly prevent illness from occurring in the first place! So, where can you get this good bacteria?
Probiotics can be consumed in a variety of ways. They can be found in freeze-dried pill form (always make sure the pills are found and kept refrigerated, real probiotics must be!), fermented dairy products like kiefer and other yogurts, and probiotics fortified foods that can be almost anything! Typically foods containing probiotics will be labeled that they contain live cultures and probiotics, and again- will be in the refrigerated section.
If you’ve never taken probiotics, have a history of taking antibiotics, or are simply interested in adding a beneficial supplement to your routine, probiotics would be a great investment! Check out the links below for more information on probiotics and some great live culture products to try.