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The Power of Probiotics

By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD

tummy

You’ve probably heard the term “probiotics” tossed around recently on labels and in the news. I swear by them and recommend them to so many Foodtrainers clients. People tend to think of bacteria as something to get rid of, but actually a huge amount of the bacteria in your body are the good guys,  in fact your gut is home to over 500 bacterial species or probiotics. And a lot of the time, if you take antibiotics or just generally have a pretty processed diet, many of these good guys get wiped out.

Here’s the “good bacteria” 101:

  • Probiotics help with digestion and help break down nutrients. So if you have any tummy issues, whether chronic or acute, probiotics may help.
  • They are also major immune boosters. The more probiotics in your belly and along your digestive tract, the harder it is for the bad bacteria and viruses to get in. Probiotics also make a compound called bacteriocins which researchers think may quash harmful bacteria.
  • Research is showing that probiotics may benefit everything from GI issues from constipation and diarrhea to IBS to ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s, as well as mood disorders and depression. When I’m feeling off, whether from traveling or a little too much fun, I make sure that probiotic is getting in my supplement regimen daily.

So where do you get them? Not all probiotics are created equal – the “live and active cultures” sticker on most yogurts is not worthy. Fermented dairy like kefir, and probiotic shots are readily available. Other fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha (fermented tea) and miso are fantastic sources of probiotics. This is one area I also recommend supplementing – ReNew Life and Garden of Life are two of my favorites.

So do you take a probiotic? Have you noticed the benefits?

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