What's This About Probiotics?

We've been talking a lot about probiotics these days. And for good reason.  Science has only just begun to understand the complex and key relationship we have with microbiota living in and on our bodies; but one thing is for sure, we can't live without them!

Bacteria has gotten a bad rep, but probiotics are different strains of bacteria that naturally exist in your digestive tract to keep your body in a state of optimal health.  They are "pro-biotic," life supporting.

Probiotic cultures can be found in fermented foods and concentrated probiotic supplements. It’s important to include probiotics in our diet each day – along with other ultimate superfoods – since we’re regularly exposed to factors that can deplete our natural stores of good bacteria. 

Chronic stress, antibiotic use, excessive sugar, alcohol consumption and environmental toxins all contribute to killing off friendly bacteria.

But one of the main benefits of probiotics is that they work hard to prevent bad bacteria from overpopulating our digestive systems. 

When bad bacteria flourishes in the gastrointestinal tract, it creates the perfect environment for illness and disease to thrive.

Unfortunately, it’s quite common today for many people to experience symptoms and conditions that relate back to an overgrowth of bad bacteria – like Candida for example.  
That being said, let’s see and how probiotics work to keep the body in a state of optimal health, shall we? good_bad_bacteria

1. Improved Digestion and Elimination (Read: Quality Poops) 

If you’re not eliminating regularly, (this means at the very least, daily, but preferably 3x!) toxins can accumulate in your digestive tract and allow the bad bacteria to have free reign in your gut.

2. Gentle Detoxification
Elimination through bowel movements is one of the ways we naturally detoxify, and probiotics help the body efficiently eliminate waste and toxins from the digestive system.

Taking a probiotic supplement each day, or eating probiotic foods, is a non-aggressive and simple form of daily detoxification.

3. Reduced Bloating
Bloating is a sign of sluggish digestion that in one way or another, can be traced back to an imbalance of friendly bacteria in your gut. 

Since probiotics are responsible for helping your body digest the foods you eat (especially carbohydrates), frequent bloating after meals is a sign that you may need to increase the probiotics in your diet.

Studies have proven the efficiency of probiotics for reducing bloating and gas, which are both symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS

4. A Stronger Immune System
Approximately 70-80% of your immune system is located in your gut  

This is why a lack of friendly bacteria in your system can leave you more susceptible to frequent colds, flus, infections, and in some cases, serious illnesses.

That being said, one of the pros of taking probiotics is having fewer sick days, and being equipped with the necessary defense against exposure to the bacteria and germs that cause illness.

5. Natural Weight Loss
Have you ever noticed the natural weight loss that occurs when you eat a diet high in fiber from fruit and veggies? 

One of the reasons this happens is because fiber contains prebiotics, which feed probiotics. And probiotics help move waste through the digestive system, which can otherwise be stored as excess weight.

This is why one of the side effects of taking probiotics is natural, effortless weight loss due to improved digestion.

6. Increased Energy
If you’re eating for energy, you’ll definitely want to include probiotics in your diet.
Have you ever noticed the sluggish feeling that results from being bloated and constipated? 
This is because a large portion of your energy is used for digestion. 

When a sufficient amount of probiotics are present in your gut, your body can digest the food you’re eating much easier, and therefore requires less energy to do so.

 7. Healthier Skin
Clear, glowing skin is a telling sign of a healthy digestive system full of good bacteria. 
Healthy skin is an inside job, which means it doesn’t come from a bottle of face cleanser or moisturizer.

Since your skin is a primary organ of elimination, toxins that naturally accumulate in your gut can end up being eliminated through the pores of your skin if your liver becomes overwhelmed, or if you’re not going to the bathroom every day. 

By supporting your entire digestive process with probiotics, you can help prevent toxins from being eliminated through the skin.

8. Healthier Teeth
The benefits of taking probiotics also include improved dental hygiene. If you struggle with bad breath, or have cavities each time you visit the dentist, probiotics may be a nutrient that’s missing in your diet.

A specific strain of probiotics called lactobacillus reuteri showed defense against a strain of bad bacteria, called Streptococcus mutans, which is found in the mouth and can cause tooth decay and gingivitis (3).

9. Reduced UTI or Yeast Infections
This benefit of probiotics is for the ladies.

Like the gut, the reproductive system also contains a balance of good and bad bacteria. The bad bacteria can also overpopulate the vagina based on several dietary and lifestyle factors, as well as taking the birth control pill.

If you regularly encounter UTIs or yeast infections, taking probiotics can help rebalance the microflora and reduce the occurrence of bacterial infections.

According to Harvard Medical School, the probiotic strain Lactobacilli is particularly beneficial for restoring the friendly bacteria in the vagina (4). 

10. Reduced Allergies
Whether you’ve had allergies for some time, or developed them recently, your gut bacteria may be compromised, which can lead to a condition called “leaky gut.”

Leaky gut is a condition that occurs when intestinal permeability is increased, which allows food particles to enter the bloodstream. 

Since food particles aren’t supposed to be in the bloodstream, the body sees them as foreign invaders, and elicits an immune response to attack the food particle in the blood. These food particles are then recognized as allergens next time they enter the body.

One of the pros of taking a probiotic supplement is that it helps strengthen and heal the gut lining, which then prevents food particles from entering the bloodstream. 

It’s not uncommon for allergies or food sensitivities to completely disappear once friendly gut bacteria has been replenished and restored.

Here are a few brands that I highly recommend (pick one):

Metagenics Capsules that do require refrigeration.  Use code Asamon to save 20% :)
GutPro  A powder supplement that does not require refrigeration.
Pure Encapsulations Capsules that do not require refrigeration.

There are many conditions that can make probiotics less effective, such as how long they've been on the shelf, particular strain, and if they're killed off by your stomach acids.  Make sure your probiotic supplement is enteric coated (which means it can travel through the digestive tract without being killed off by stomach acid), and contains a variety of bacteria strains, not just one.

High-quality probiotic supplements, like those listed above, will also come with a product guarantee. 
In some cases, the initial addition of probiotics in your diet may produce digestive symptoms, known as die-off.  This is when the "bad bacteria" die off as a result of the new troops moving in. You may experience constipation or more frequent bowel movements and/or increased gas, as your body adjusts to the increase of friendly bacteria. 

However, the negative side effects of probiotics shouldn’t last longer than a few weeks.

If you ask me, probiotics are one of the most important nutrients to include in your diet each day when eating for energy, improving your digestive health and protecting yourself against illness and disease.

To Your Health!

  1. http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
  2. https://www.consumerlab.com
  3. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168160504001552
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002586/


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