You’re here. That means you’ve heard a thing or two about probiotics. Maybe your doctor recommended you add them to your diet. Maybe you overheard someone talking about them in the locker room. Or maybe you stumbled across the term on a health & wellness blog (here’s a link to a wellness blog we love!) and wondered what the deal was on probiotics. However you found your way to the world of gut health, you’re curious… and you want to know more.
Well, you’re in luck. We’ve got all the answers for you. From the basics (what, exactly, ARE probiotics?!) to the more advanced (4 billion CFU vs 10 billion CFU, how many do I need?) we’ve got your back on all things bacteria.
We’ll cover everything you need to know in our Probiotics 101 post.
What's your gut feeling?
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS, ANYWAY?
We’ll start with the basics. The definition approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) is “live organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host.”
When “probiotic” is used as a term in naturopathic medicine, it refers to the micro-organisms found in supplements and food sources that when administered in appropriate numbers, benefit your health.
Your body is full of bacteria (more than 100 trillion in fact) both good and bad. Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that live naturally in your intestines.
These microorganisms, when they are properly balanced, act to support your immune system, aid in digestion, support your skin and hair health, and basically keep everything in your body running smoothly.
Unfortunately for most of us, because of the food we eat as part of the Standard American Diet (SAD), the chemicals we are exposed to, and the use of antibiotics, many of us have an overpopulation of “bad” bacteria, (learn more on the science of the bacteria inside you, in this HuffPo article) that cause infections and illness and not enough of the good guys for balance.
DO I NEED PROBIOTICS?
The short answer is YES! And here’s why:
- Many of us have lost essential good bacteria in our microbiome just from the way we live and eat in our daily lives.
- When we consume meat, dairy and fish, we are exposed to the toxins, hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals that those animals absorbed before they got to our plate.
- Additionally, the administration of antibiotics to nursing mothers and to children under the age of 3 severely alter our microbiome as it is still being formed. So, right from the start you’re losing essential bacteria needed to protect your health.
- Conventional foods that are genetically modified are exposed to tons of pesticides and herbicides that can further impact the amount of good bacteria in our guts.
- Having good bacteria in your gut helps avoid bad bacteria from growing.
- Even tap water often has chlorine in it to kill off the bad bacteria in our water supply, but guess what it can do to the good bacteria in our guts.
And don’t even get us started on what processed food and added sugar are doing to your health.
Luckily, there is a solution.
When you take a probiotic supplement with the right strains, dosage and quality of good bacteria, you help to repopulate your system with the helpful bacteria that balance your microbiome and can drastically improve your overall health.
Thanks, I feel better already!
You’re welcome. Come back for more Probiotics 101 installments for even more info on how to keep yourself happy and healthy from the inside out.