No matter how careful we are with our diets or the number of times we workout a week, inevitable belly bloat, indigestion, and information are bound to happen. And, while we often resort to eating more greens or taking over-the-counter medications, there is an all-natural remedy that soothes stomach aches better than anything ⏤ and that magic gut-healing remedy is probiotics.
We’ve all heard it before: Probiotics can be great for our gut — but what are they? Refinery29 recently interviewed Amanda Kruse, RD, CD on the topic: “Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that could help balance the bacteria in your gut. They can be helpful for people with GI problems (like IBS or lactose intolerance), but more research needs to be done on the amounts that work best for healthy people because there’s so much variation from person to person.” Probiotics also play an important role in helping each and every one of us attain digestive balance — whether or not we suffer from digestive woes of any sort. These live bacteria can be very powerful in the fight against inflammation as well, especially since inflammation can be a precursor to countless health issues including allergies, autoimmune disorders, fatigue, depression, arthritis, and more.
In the short-term, this is nothing to worry about, but chronically, things can take a nasty turn ⏤ and digestive problems can get worse, and the best way to reduce inflammation is to make sure we’re getting the right amount of probiotics a day. You can get your probiotics in many different ways. One way is through supplements, foods, or drinks, but most experts agree that real foods and drinks are the best because your stomach acid can kill supplements before they get to your intestines where the real work happens.
Ready to have a happier, healthier gut? Read on for 6 tips on how to reduce inflammation with probiotics.
1) Find The Right Probiotic Supplement for Your Body
Probiotics come in many shapes and forms, including capsules, liquids, drink formulations, and in naturally-occurring foods such as kefir yogurt, kombucha, and miso. It is important to realize that there are different strains of bacteria found in varying doses that serve specific benefits for the body (i.e. immune system, hormonal balance, burning fat). There are too many things to consider, but the top five things to keep in mind are the brand quality, strain diversity, survivability of the formula, potency, and CFU count (amount of bacteria). Many conventional brands out there prove ineffective due to improper storage and handling so take your search seriously. Experiment away!
2) Cut The Sugars
Simply taking a probiotic supplement is all fine and dandy, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with an unhealthy diet. In fact, one of the worst enemies of the good bacteria in our gut is sugar because it can cause the bad bacteria in our guts to go haywire. Also, research indicates that the quantity of refined sugar in your diet can dramatically impact both gut function and the composition of bowel contents. Natural sugars found in fruits and whole grains can stay, but the refined sugars found in goodies like donuts, cakes, bread, and candy should be limited.
3) Do Not Take Probiotics and Antibiotics Together
Prescription antibiotics are oftentimes a necessity and that is totally understandable. Ever get sick enough that you do whatever your doctor suggests? Yep, me too. But do keep in mind that they have the potential to wreak havoc on your gut microflora and essentially turn your digestive system into a breeding ground for bad bacteria, viruses, yeast, and parasites. Probiotic intake may or may not combat the damage so be sure to up your intake accordingly, consulting with your healthcare provider to establish the perfect dosage for you.
4) Eat a Fiber-Rich Diet
Sure, taking the perfect probiotic supplement is a kickass start to establishing gut harmony, but it doesn’t end there. Did you know that these very probiotics require their own fuel? Yes, you heard that right. By consuming fiber-rich foods, especially in the form of soluble fiber, you are making these living bacteria very happy. And when they are satisfied, they will produce the beneficial flora your body needs. It is a symbiotic relationship you have total control over. Not sure what to eat? Start by throwing in some chia seeds or flax seed into your morning smoothie or upping your fresh fruit and vegetable intake.
5) Sour Foods Help
From kimchi to kombucha, sour foods are making their way into our diets in epic proportions. Sour foods and drinks can take us out of our familiar comfort zones, but they are delectable for our gut microflora. Have any idea why that is? Well, they contain types of acids such as gluconic and acetic acid that are responsible for creating an ideal pH in our bodies — this thereby leads to the rampant expansion of good bacteria. Don’t know where to start? Consider fermented vegetables such as kimchi and sauerkraut. But, if that is too much too soon, adding in apple cider vinegar to your next salad could be the way to go. Next time you tease your glowing yogi girlfriend for gulping down kombucha, you may want to join in the fun. Your gut will be as delighted as can be.
6) Not All Yogurts Are Good For You
Most people associate yogurt with probiotics and believe that they are ahead of the probiotics game by merely consuming yogurt. Wait right there ladies. You see, not all yogurt is created equal. Dr. Mercola, who is an osteopathic medicine physician and well-known wellness entrepreneur, agrees with us. “The majority of the yogurt sold at your local store is made from factory-farmed, pasteurized, homogenized milk that may contain Monsanto’s genetically bioengineered hormone rBST,” he says. So, what do health-conscious, sensible woman like us do? For starters, we can opt for a high quality supplement that will ensure we are getting the healthful flora we desire. Otherwise, if yogurt takes up a piece of our heart, it is smart to look for the top reputable brands on the market via The Cornucopia Institute’s Yogurt Report.