It might sound gross, but we can carry up to 500 different kinds of bacteria in our guts. Bacteria is bad, though, right? Not always. In the case of our guts, and our health, we want lots of good bacteria.
Probiotics are good bacteria and yeasts that live naturally in your gut microbiome. They are necessary for good gut health, and your gut health actually affects the entire body.
While they occur naturally, we can also purchase foods and supplements that bolster the good bacteria. Here are three things to consider when buying probiotics.
Food, Beverage, or Supplement
Probiotics can be consumed through foods, beverages, or taken as a supplement. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
There are plenty of probiotic foods that can help boost healthy gut bacteria. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and Kimchi all have naturally occurring probiotics.
Fermented foods have other health benefits, and are an easy way to get more probiotics into your system.
However, it is difficult to measure the amounts or exact types of probiotics naturally occurring in these foods.
There are three types of probiotic beverages if you prefer to drinks: kefir, kombucha, and supplemented drinks. Probiotic beverages, such as these products, offer a convenient way to get more probiotics into your system.
You can also take probiotic supplements in the form of capsules, and probiotic gummies, and probiotic vitamins. The advantage to this is that you know exactly how much and what types of bacteria you are getting.
The downside is that they can be expensive and you will miss out on the superfood benefits of naturally occurring probiotic foods.
Consider CFU Count When Buying Probiotics
A good rule of thumb is to look for a product that has a high CFU count. Look for at least 50 billion per serving.
CFUs (colony forming units) are the measurement of alive bacterial cells in the probiotic. The CFU count can vary from 1 to 100 billion in each serving.
CFUs are important because probiotics need live bacteria to work in your gut.
Know Your Strains
You want to look for a probiotic that has a good strain diversity. At a minimum, the product should contain 10 or more strains. Stains to look for include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bacillus coagulans, and Bifidobacterium.
Each strain has a different effect on the body, and each body is different, so it may take a few tries to find the best combination for you.
A Healthy Gut for a Healthy Life
When buying probiotics, it is important to know what your goal is. Studies show that different strains can help with different issues.
Some of the most popular uses for probiotics are to help control inflammatory bowel disease, prevent urinary tract infections, ease eczema, and help maintain a healthy body weight.
Research indicates that probiotics can even give your mental health a boost.
Probiotics are naturally occurring and generally safe and well-tolerated. With so little to lose and so much to gain, consider giving them a try to round out your health regime.
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