Acidophilus, Lactobacillus, Bulgaricus…..sounds like a bunch of prehistoric beasts lurking in your yogurt! Actually, they’re microscopic organisms that sound oh so fancy and complicated, but actually do some basic and really helpful things for your body. Also known as “Good Bacteria”, probiotics keep harmful bacteria in check, help with your digestive health and build up your immunity. A healthy balance of probiotics is needed to keep you well, and there are so many things that can rock that balance and make you feel crappy. Things like obesity, diabetes, old age (or really young age), genetics, too much coffee or tea, poor diet, certain meds like birth control pills and antibiotics and also certain conditions and diseases like Parkinson’s and Crohn’s.
So what do you do if you think your belly is out of balance? You can supplement with probiotics or eat more foods that contain probiotics. If you want to supplement, choose one that contains at least 20 billion live organisms per dose. Most supplements contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, the two rock stars of probiotic bacterial strains, so be sure to change your supplement every month or two to provide your body with a variety.
You can also supplement your body with extra probiotics by eating foods that contain more. Actually, while most probiotic pill supplements contain about 10 billion colony-forming units of bacteria (weird, I know… don’t overthink it), fermented foods contain almost 10 trillion colony-forming units. Just one serving of fermented vegetables contains more probiotics than an entire bottle of pill supplements! Sauerkraut, kombucha, pickles, kimchi and Greek yogurt have an awesome amount of probiotics as do miso soup, tempeh, and dark chocolate.
Although experts say that there really is no harm in “getting more of a good thing”, here is a list of the Pros and Cons (there aren’t many) of supplementing probiotics so you can decide for yourself.
Help reduce blood pressure
Researchers found positive results in that people with elevated blood pressure who supplemented with various strains of probiotics, for longer than 2 months.
Help prevent cavities.
Studies have shown that probiotics kill harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay and contribute to gingivitis.
The liver uses cholesterol to make bile. Experts believe that probiotics break up bile salts and decrease their reabsorption into your gut.
Keep your belly happy by keeping your bowel movements healthy.
Whether you suffer from constipation or diarrhea, both generally occur as a result of improper bacteria balance in your belly. Supplementing with probiotics has been shown to significantly help.
Keep you happy…down there.
Probiotics help balance the bacteria in your vagina and manage the overgrowth of harmful organisms that can lead to conditions like yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and bacterial vaginosis.
Helps your respiratory system.
Researchers conducted studies on kids and adults who drank probiotic-enriched milk or supplemented with various strains and found that those who consumed more, daily, experienced fewer colds and other respiratory infections than others. They found that good belly flora increase markers for stronger immune systems.
Can cause belly issues.
Taking supplemental probiotics can cause gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort in certain people. If you experience it from one type of probiotic, it may help to try switching to a different kind to see whether it agrees more with your digestive system.
Can empty your bank account.
Although their easy and convenient, probiotic supplementation can become quite costly. Look for deals at wholesale warehouses and/or online. Or consider food alternatives!