“When I take my probiotics regularly, I feel good, and I feel like I am helping my body help itself.” – Cameron Diaz, The Body Book
Today I’m sharing with you all a quick primer on probiotics, what they are, where to find them, and more! Probiotics are involved in having healthy digestion; healthy digestion is involved in almost everything our body does! So let’s break down just how these good guys of the bacteria world work
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are the army of good bacteria keeping a balance with the natural occurring “bad” bacteria and yeast in our digestive system.
Many things may affect gut function including diet, lifestyle, stress and if you’ve ever been on antibiotics especially for an extended period of time, your gut is most likely lacking the army of good bacteria. Antibiotics for example, are anti everything (good and bad bacteria), so if antibiotics are fighting off the bad bacteria, guess what? They’re also fighting off the good guys! Antibiotics are not just found in our prescription medication, but even in our food supply in the US (meats, dairy, eggs, etc. with factory farming practices). It’s our job to feed our body with foods that promote healthy gut microflora and a healthy ecosystem- consuming probiotic rich foods will do just that.
Where can you find probiotics?
Probiotics occur naturally in our digestive system already! They’re made from the foods we eat- you can see how this can be an issue for those who don’t consume a diet high in whole foods and rely on the Standard American Diet for their nutrition. Highly processed foods, ones that contain those antibiotics from meats and dairy (again I’m referring to those not produced on an actual farm with “farmer Joe” taking care of his animals), and foods lacking in fiber are just some ways our bodies aren’t primed for a healthy ecosystem. The way our bodies make probiotics from the foods we eat is through prebiotics. Prebiotics are basically the food for the bacteria to feed on, they’re indigestible ingredients and two of the most common forms are inulin and fructo-oligosccharides (FOS).
Foods that contain some probiotics:
- – Fermented sauerkraut (I love Bubbies brand)
- – Kim Chi (homemade or store bought- look for raw or all natural fermented)
- – Yogurt (organic dairy or non-dairy alternatives); there’s a lot of marketing about yogurt being high in probiotics, most yogurts don’t contain substantial amounts. *Look for Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium.
- – Other fermented veggies (carrots, shredded beets, cabbage, a mixture of them, etc.)
- – Kefir (organic dairy kefir or coconut water kefir)
What about supplements?
Probiotics are also found in supplemental form, varying from quantity of CFU’s (colony forming unites), types (i.e. strains of bacteria), and form (i.e. pill, powder, etc.). Typically when I recommend probiotics to my clients with digestive issues or challenges, I recommend looking for a trusted, reputable company who undergoes third party testing if possible and having Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). You can always use consumerlabs.com to check how pure and potent a supplement is; they’re a great third party organization/lab who tests supplements.
All of our digestive systems are different and you may benefit from taking probiotics; just be sure to do your research and check in with your good ole’ doctor. Feel free to contact me as well if you have specific digestive issues or questions and are need of a new plan!
Eat well, live well, be well!
RELATED READ: Your Microbiome (For more, read Chapter 13 of The Body Book.)
McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN is an internationally known Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Founder ofNutrition Stripped. Nutrition Stripped is one of the top healthy living websites including whole food recipes, meal plans, cooking videos, nutrition advice, t-shirt line of wearable healthy inspirations, and an incredible community of millions of people who are inspired to live a healthier, happier, and more radiant life.