Probiotics: Why They Are So Important For Gut Health

Probiotics Word Cloud

Say Hi to Your Gut Flora!

Probiotics are a hot topic in science at the momemnt.  But before we delve into that, let’s say hi to your gut!

It’s amazing to think that the digestive system is teeming with billions of beneficial bacteria, also known as gut flora.  Even more amazing that these bacteria play such a critical role in your health (1), (2).

However, for various reasons including illness, poor diet and stress (to name only a few), the gut flora can get thrown out of balance, allowing harmful bacteria to multiply (3). This can lead to a weakened immune system and ill health.

The gut and immune system are closely linked with  70 to 80 percent of immune tissue situated in the digestive tract.  Your intestines quite literally form a protective barrier between your bloodstream and the external world.  It is the role of the gut flora to keep that barrier intact.

What Are Probiotics?

The formal definition of probiotics are “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host” (4).

This translates as live bacteria, similar to the body’s own gut flora, found in foods and supplements.  In the right quantities, probiotics provide the gut with billions of good bacteria and promote a healthy, balanced microbiome (5).

There is evidence that probiotics may support weight loss, improve digestion, improve heart health, and boost the immune system (6), (7).

Research suggests that different strains of probiotic work for different health conditions. Therefore, choosing the right type of probiotic is essential. Many probiotic supplements combine different species together in the same supplement.

How to Increase Probiotic Intake

Some common probiotic foods which contain lots of beneficial bacteria include live yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi and other fermented foods. Additionally, common probiotic strains found in supplements include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium (8).

Probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics which are dietary fibres that help feed the friendly bacteria already in the gut (9).

The importance of gut health is a new but rapidly expanding area of research.  Consequently, there is a growing body of evidence that supports the use of probiotics.

Taking care of the friendly bacteria that reside in your gut is one of the single most important things you can do for your health.

Stay Wild!

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