Should You be taking Probiotics

August 11, 2023

Should You be taking Probiotics

Probiotics are often referred to as "friendly bacteria" that can champion your digestive well-being and also give your immune system an extra edge. Whether you've seen them as supplements on the shelves or heard about their presence in foods like yogurt, they've certainly made a name for themselves in the health community. But are they really the right choice for every person? And particularly, how do they benefit women? Let's dive in.

Why Probiotics Matter

Your lower intestine is bustling with microbes that play an indispensable role in digesting your food, warding off malicious bacteria, and fine-tuning your immune defenses. But, every now and then, things can go awry. For a variety of reasons, such as an illness, having to take a course of antibiotics, or even being under stress, your normal microbial balance can tip out of balance, leading to issues like diarrhea, bloating, gas, and other problems..

Enter probiotics. These helpful bacteria can come to the rescue and act to realign the balance of your gut microbiome. They not only emit substances that rev up your immune defenses but also work to keep harmful pathogens at bay, reducing your risk of severe ailments. While there is a lot of excitement about probiotics, it's essential to understand that it’s early in terms of research and that our understanding is still evolving.

Interestingly, some research hints at the possibility of minimizing antibiotic-induced diarrhea by pairing the medicine with a probiotic. And there's even talk about probiotics potentially being able to reduce the number of colds you get each year. Probiotics have also found a place in alleviating everyday digestive discomforts like gas, bloating, and constipation.

Be Informed Before You Buy

Take a walk down the health aisle of your favorite natural foods or large grocery store and you'll see an array of probiotics, each claiming to be the best. But not all are created equal. Some have been scrutinized rigorously through studies, while others, not so much. These products typically contain bacteria known as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, or a mix of the two. The bacteria are harvested in concentrated forms and then processed into powders, capsules, tablets, lozenges, and even gum. An important consideration for people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medication is a potential risk that probiotics might not sit well with them, so if you are one of these people, you need to seek advice from your health provider before taking them.

Like any supplement know where it's coming from and be sure to purchase from a reputable company.  In order to provide benefit, probiotics must be consumed alive and contain an optimal concentration of bacteria in each dose.  

Natural Probiotic Treasure Troves

But swallowing a pill isn't the only way to get probiotics, as many delicious foods contain them naturally. Some star sources include:

  • Yogurt, with Greek yogurt stealing the spotlight (be sure to look for the words “active, live cultures” on the label
  • Kefir, the tangy fermented dairy delight (also comes in non-dairy options)
  • Fermented veggies,think naturally fermented pickles and sauerkraut. 

But here's another heads-up: while these foods are teeming with probiotics, quantifying exactly how much they contain can be a challenge. Unlike supplements, food labels might not disclose the specific probiotic content. If you're keen on incorporating them consistently, consider discussing with your healthcare professional before kickstarting any probiotic journey

Remember, like all things health-related, it's essential to find what works best for you, whether that’s getting your probiotics from a supplement or from foods. Cheers to your gut health!


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