A few months ago, I started noticing that I was having some pretty annoying stomach issues. I would eat regular sized meals (albeit sometimes not all that healthy), make a conscious effort not to overeat, try to make sure I was getting enough protein, cutting down on the amount of dairy I was having (which was always an issue for me) but was still feeling really bloated at the end of it. As a result, I was eating less food because I thought I was overeating. Then I was getting enough nutrients, feeling sluggish, but didn’t want to eat more because I felt sick when I did that, too. I was feeling really frustrated and was venting to my friend at work who said she had experienced the same thing. Her fix? Probiotics.
I’d heard of ’em before but had never looked into their benefits. I went to the pharmacy, talked to their naturopath, and 15 minutes later was walking out with a bottle of probiotics. I took them for 2 months and almost immediately noticed a difference (typically 5 days of straight usage will result in a difference). I was able to eat regular sized meals and not feel bloated and sick and foods that used to bother me didn’t as much anymore. I ran out of probiotics and then never got more (which I didn’t think was a big problem). False. Back came my stomach issues and bloating. Moral of the story? This girl needs probiotics in her life (bless, fam).
So, what are they and how do they help you?
- Probiotics are special types of bacteria and yeast that lives in a healthy body (aka good bacteria!)
- Probiotics act as the peacekeeper and help restore order and keep your body ticking properly
- Probiotics fix what needs to be fixed – they go in, figure out what’s needed and respond – smart little guys!
- They help improve beneficial bacteria in your gut – eating good, healthy, real unprocessed food will also help with this
- They improve your gut’s barrier – they help with the cells and stimulate mucus production, which makes a barrier and makes it harder for bugs to wreak havoc
- Studies have also shown that a healthy gut can lead to a healthy mind – if your microbiome is unbalanced, it can negatively affect your mood, mental health, immune health, and brain function. Probiotics in your gut appear to make compounds that directly affect your brain in a good way
What should I look for?
- Potency count: CFUs or colony forming units of 50 billion or higher – that’s how many bacteria you will receive per does
- What’s the shelf life? Does it need to be refrigerated or can it stay out?
- How many different strains of bacteria does it contain? Look for high diversity or multiple strains. Especially look for:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum that reside in the small intestine or the upper GI tract among your immune cells
- Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium bifidum that reside in the large intestine or the lower bowel, which are also critical areas for health
If you’re having stomach issues, I highly recommend checking out probiotics. As always, it’s important to talk to your doctor and do your own research before starting anything like this!