If you’ve got any sort of health awareness you’ve not doubt heard of probiotics – our little friends that help our digestive system. But how much do you really know about them? A lot of health articles preach the value of probiotics, and rightly so. There are some huge health benefits from having a healthy microbiome. But are probiotics right for you? That’s the million dollar question.
Before we get too far along, let’s define a probiotic.
According to the World Health Organization a probiotic is: microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.
Most often we think of probiotics as being bacteria, but there are beneficial yeasts as well.
Some commonly known probiotics include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidus, and Sacromyces boulardii.
Whenever food can be utilized as medicine I am all for it!
Many foods like yogurt, kim chi, sauerkraut, and kombucha contain probiotics. These can be great ways to nourish, feed and seed the human microbiome. But there are a few problems that can occur here. First, many people just do not consume these foods. Second, while many of these foods utilize bacteria to make them they are them sterilized or pasteurized eliminating the probiotic benefit. Similarly, the types of bacteria present in the food may not provide any benefit in the human gut. And lastly, sometimes people just don’t feel good when eating these foods.
Another consideration is that food based probiotics can be useful for maintaining good health but are not strong enough to achieve it.
This is where probiotic supplements come in to play.
They provide the ability to provide high potency dosages with targeted strains in order to address specific concerns.
The microbiome and all the microrganisms that reside there have impacts on a variety of areas. Some of the most notable and important are gut health and regularity, and immune health including allergies. Different species of bacteria, and in fact different strains, can be used depending on specific heath issues. We’ll explore these concepts in another blog next week.