Become a Pro on Probiotics and Prebiotics: What You Need to Know
Did you know the human body is full of bacteria? As much as you might be grossed out by the idea, that’s actually a good thing. Millions of bacteria live inside us - both good and bad - kept in balance by maintaining healthy levels of beneficial bacteria.
Bad bacteria, like E. coli and Salmonella, can get into the body by eating contaminated foods, or by accidentally ingesting it after not washing your hands regularly and touching dirty surfaces. These bugs can give you a stomach ache, diarrhea, or worse. The existing bad bacteria in your body, kept in check by the good, can also grow out of control if the balance is disrupted. This can happen from things like overuse of antibiotics, poor diet and/or consuming too much sugar, illness, or by contracting a parasite.
You can help maintain a healthy level of good bacteria or treat a range of symptoms and illnesses by taking probiotics. Probiotics are strains of living bacteria in pill, capsule, or powder form. They’re also found naturally occurring in foods containing live active cultures, like yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
We’ve listed just four of the amazing benefits of probiotics here! Probiotics can be used to:
Treat skin conditions: Your skin has its own bacteria, too! Research has linked Lactobacillus Rhamnosus gg to treatment and prevention of eczema outbreaks by correcting imbalances.
Prevent traveler’s diarrhea: Several strains of probiotics have been linked to diarrhea prevention and treatment, including Bifidobacterium Lactis. Traveler’s diarrhea (TD) is caused by changes in environment and water sources, and you can prevent or decrease the risk and effects of TD by taking a probiotic before and during a trip to a place known to have unsafe drinking water.
Lessen or prevent side effects of potent antibiotics: If you’re susceptible to yeast infections after taking certain antibiotics, taking a probiotic containing Lactobacillus Acidophilus once daily during a course of antibiotics can help to prevent this yucky side effect and make you less susceptible to repeat infections. Be sure to take the probiotic a few hours before or after the medication for maximum results!
What’s important in choosing a probiotic?
The highest quality probiotics contain living bacteria strains, and typically these are kept in a refrigerator to extend their life. As with other supplements, look for those in light-proof containers to prevent sun exposure.
The higher the strain count, the stronger the more effective the dose. A heavy-duty, reconstructive probiotic prescribed by a naturopath might have as many as 200 billion strains. These will recolonize stomach bacteria after a major infection, several doses of antibiotics, or contraction of a parasite. Over the counter, you can find supplements with anywhere from 5 to 100 billion strains.
Encourage good bacteria growth with prebiotics. You can also encourage healthy bacteria growth by including prebiotic foods and supplements in your diet. Prebiotics “fuel” probiotics, which maximize their effectiveness even further!
So what is a prebiotic and how does it work? It’s essentially fiber, coming from the indigestible parts of foods like apple peels, beans, onion, and garlic. These fibers pass through the gastrointestinal tract; since they are indigestible, once they reach the colon they start to ferment, turning them into a food source for your good gut bacteria (including those that come from the live organisms that you get from probiotics). Prebiotics are also known as a type of dietary fiber called “oligosaccharides.”
Studies have shown that increasing your intake of prebiotics has been linked to many powerful benefits, such as:
Reduced risk of heart disease
More healthy cholesterol levels
Improved gut health
Improved hormonal balance and decreased stress response
Stronger immune functions
Decreased risk for obesity and weight gain
We bet you can’t wait to try prebiotics for yourself, so we’re including MSPrebiotic supplement in our September box! This high-quality prebiotic powder is made from non-GMO potatoes and is totally tasteless! It’s the perfect addition to your morning smoothie (and probiotic supplement). You won’t want to miss out on this one - reserve your box now!