With all the supplements out in the market right now, it's insane to even try to keep up with them all, what they do and how much you should be taking. I try to learn as much as I can but it's really just overwhelming and if I eat right and exercise I feel pretty good without much else. (except water, always more water, right?)
Honestly, half the supplements you're being encouraged to take either don't work or you don't need them. And you should always be tested for vitamin deficiencies and check with your doctor before taking something new. However, the one thing I've been especially interested in learning more about it probiotics, mainly because I always, always, always have digestive issues.
So, what exactly are probiotics and why do I need them?
Probiotics are supplements or food (think yogurt or sauerkraut) that contain micro-organisms that improve or maintain the good bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics are typically high fiber foods such as whole grains or bananas that act as food for the bacteria. Both are important to maintaining a healthy balance in your gut.
Probiotics can improve your digestive function, assist with weight loss, help lower your cholesterol, help stabilize your blood pressure and help you fight off illness.
Ok, so what do I look for when buying probiotics?
Most importantly you need to make sure they contain "live and active cultures" which will be labeled as CFU (colony forming units), the total count of all bacteria in the probiotics. They are only effective in adequate amounts so these numbers need to be high. The potency of the product is also important - probiotics are supposed to be stored in a refrigerator. It's ok if you buy some off the shelf in the store, just be sure they haven't been sitting there for 6 months, and put them in the fridge when you get home. You can also look for the total number of different bacteria strains and their ability to perform their specific job.
Lactobacillus is most effective for breaking down food, absorbing nutrients and fending off bad bacteria.
S. Boulardi is helpful in relieving IBS, GI tract inflammation and combats bacterial, fungal and parasite infections.
Consumer Health Report gave BlueBiotics Ultimate Care it's highest rating for probiotic supplement because it contains S. Boulardi, an expensive but highly effective strain.
Side effects with probiotics are rare but you should still consult with your physician about the best choice for your body.
OK, SO HERE'S THE THING
I love probiotics but I always forget to take supplements. I can even put them right next to my coffee cup and still forget to take them. So I try to incorporate them into my diet as well.
Here are some of my favorite foods for gut health:
Farmhouse Culture Kraut (SO good on a turkey burger)