Growing interest on how gut functions affect our health have been adorning news headlines lately. Researchers believe that our digestive system is connected to everything from how we feel, how much we weigh, to what we’re allergic to and more. The digestive tract even has a nervous system of their own (Enteric Nervous System; ENS) capable of independent neural activity. What we eat affects what kind of bacteria/microorganisms thrive in our gut, and it should be no surprise that eating the right food to cultivate “good bacteria” is imperative to good gut health. Although the basis of gut health comes from eating good food, probiotics can help steer it in the right direction.
Probiotics refer to live microorganisms introduced in the body for its beneficial qualities. There are many different types of probiotic supplements out there, but the most common bacteria used in probiotic supplements belong to the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
So what exactly does probiotic do for your body? Some experts say that conclusions are too early to draw as we are just learning and much more research is in need. However, early research shows that there may be multitude of health benefits that comes with supplementing your diet with probiotics. This includes managing digestive disorders (irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.), allergies and flare ups from indigestion or food sensitivities, and even reducing anxiety and depression symptoms.1,2
Currently, there are tens of hundreds of different probiotic supplement products available for consumer purchase. When choosing a supplement, make sure to read the label to understand the efficacy of the probiotic. The label should tell you how many organisms are in a single dose (a good probiotic supplement should have at least 7 strains and 5 billion colony forming units) and how they are encapsulated (reaching your gut means the probiotic capsule has to survive the acidic stomach).3
Although probiotics are not a panacea, it can help you take your first step towards gut health and feeling better.