Probiotics have gotten so much hype over the past few years. If you go to the store you’ll see a ton of different options, but should you be including them in your diet?
So first, what are probiotics?
Probiotics are a type of “friendly” bacteria because they are beneficial to the body. Some of the possible benefits of these bacteria are:
- They can help fight bad bacteria which causes inflammation
- Inflammation can lead to stomach issues, so probiotics are said to help stomach issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and constipation.
- They can help improve our immune system
- They can help with skin conditions, such as eczema and acne.
- They are also speculated to help with mental illnesses, allergies, joint stiffness, and sleeping problems. Source
These friendly bacteria are already present in your microbiome (the microorganisms that make up your body). If your taking antibiotics (which kill off some of the good and bad bacteria) your doctor might (and in my opinion should recommend you take a probiotic alongside) to help replace some of the good bacteria that’s killed.
Why supplement a probiotic?
So as mentioned above, if your on an antibiotic I recommend supplementing a probiotic. If you’re not on antibiotics, you might not have a reason to supplement with probiotics. There is limited evidence that taking a supplemental dose of probiotics will be beneficial.
Do I take probiotics?
Yes. So I just said there’s not much evidence..but I take them anyways? I have been on multiple doses of antibiotics throughout the past few years, which were prescribed by my dermatologist for acne. When I was on these antibiotics I experienced a good amount of stomach issues, which is why I take probiotics. I believe that the courses of antibiotics I took, caused the killing off of some of the good bacteria in my digestive tract which led to stomach issues.
Since I started taking probiotics regularly, I have become a lot more regular. Now in terms of acne (which probiotics are good said to be good for because of inflammation) I wouldn’t say I’ve seen much of an improvement alone because of the probiotics.
Does food contain probiotics?
Yes. Foods that naturally contain these good bacteria include yogurt, kefir (similar to yogurt), sauerkraut, miso soup, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha and more. These are all fermented foods, and in the process of fermentation the probiotic bacteria is naturally added. These are all great foods to work into your eating patterns on a regular basis because they’re essentially healthy food with benefits.
Things to know if you want to take a supplement:
The probiotic market has increased so much in the past few years with its recent gain in popularity. If you feel the need to take a probiotic, whether it be because of antibiotics or because you think it will help you there are some things you should know.
- Probiotic supplements are considered dietary supplements, which are not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) unless a claim is filled against a specific product. This means that a probiotic can say they put certain strains of bacteria in their product, which might not actually be there. It can also mean that the company can advertise “live bacteria” and the bacteria might not even be live at the time of packaging or consumption.
- If you think your body needs this extra bacteria, it’s almost impossible to know which type of bacteria your specific microbiome needs. The most common strains of bacteria included in probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. More research needs to be done to figure out which strains your body is in need of (if any). There are said to be 100 trillion types of bacteria in the body so determining which ones will benefit you is unfortunately tricky.
- Experiment to find a probiotic supplement that works for you. Try taking a supplement or just including these probiotic foods consistently for at least a month and see if you notice any differences.
- I’ve done my fair share on how to pick a good probiotic supplement from the store, and it’s hard to find out how to even choose the right one. As per my dermatologist, she recommends one with at least 10 billion CFU (colony forming units) per dose. I also have read that it’s beneficial to get a supplement that contains multiple strands of bacteria- so look for that on the box before purchasing.
Make sure you’re also including prebiotic foods in your diet. Prebiotic foods are a type of indigestible plant fiber that helps to feed the probiotics in your system. Prebiotic foods include bananas, oatmeal, asparagus, legumes, garlic and onions.
I hope you learned a little something from this article! I’m not an expert on probiotics, but I think our microbiome is really fascinating and I plan to continue learning about the subject. I would love to know what your take is on probiotics in the comments!
Lastly: These are the two probiotic supplements I recommend. I recommend them because they are not too costly, but they have over 10 CFU’s and have multiple strains of bacteria. I have used the Nature Made probiotic for some time (and loved it) and am just recently trying out the Renew Life brand. I have yet to try more expensive brands of probiotics but will probably try some out in the future. I mainly try to incorporate lots of probiotic foods and drinks into my diet as well. I love kombucha drinks and yogurt, like the ones I have shown in my photo.
Sources I used: