Bugs in your Gut: The Benefit of Probiotics

It was Hippocrates – who is often coined as the “Father of Medicine” – who said that all disease begins in the gut. The gut has become an increasingly popular topic over the past year or so and we think you should pay attention.

You may have heard that probiotics should be a part of your daily routine, but do you know what probiotics are or why they’re beneficial? Although proper digestion is a major benefit of probiotics, it goes far behind that. Let’s back up a minute and talk about your gut.

You are actually more bug than you are human. Now don’t be alarmed. All that means is that the number of bacterial cells in your body outweighs the amount of cells that are actually “human”. Although you may think of bacteria as nothing more than bugs that cause disease, this is largely untrue. The bacteria in your gut play crucial roles in digestion, nutritional status, and your immune health. There are many different strains of bacteria that live in your digestive tract – and each one of these strains has its own specific function, however, as a whole, these bacteria help produce vitamins, like vitamin K, and break down carbohydrates that you would otherwise be unable to digest. There is even some research that shows that the bacteria in your gut play a role in your mental health.

The bacteria in your gut – also lovingly called your intestinal flora – also helps your immune system. When potentially harmful bacteria – or other types of pathogens – enter your digestive tract, the bacteria already living in your gut help suppress them and prevent them from expressing and causing an illness. If the bacteria in your gut are out of balance, you become more susceptible to infection from these invading bacteria.

Because the bacteria in your gut are living organisms, they can actually die off when conditions aren’t suitable for them. Poor diet, stress, chronic use of antibiotics, and illness can all change the environment of your gut, which also changes the balance of gut bacteria. If your intestinal flora becomes imbalanced, it can lead to things like gas, bloating, indigestion, constipation, increased susceptibility to illness, and even depression.

The key to keeping your gut bacteria happy is to eat a proper diet and to supplement that diet with probiotics. So what is the proper diet to promote a happy, balanced gut?

Good bacteria thrive on fiber, so high-fiber goods like legumes and vegetables are an ideal food source for the bacteria in your gut. Fermented foods, like saukerkraut, miso, and tempeh contain probiotic cultures that actually help increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. It’s best to avoid refined sugar and fruit in excess, which can feed yeast – another organism in your body that can outnumber the good bacteria and cause infection.

If you’re dealing with digestive distress, a probiotic supplement, like our Probiotic-5, may be just what you need. Probiotic supplements actually contain live bacteria that you swallow (usually in pill form) to repopulate your digestive tract. A good probiotic can help improve GI function, increase immunity, and promote overall health.

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Do you currently take a probiotic? If so, what differences have you seen in your health since starting your supplement regimen?