There are so many ways that we try to improve our lives and our health these days. From daily spin classes, to yoga. From a ketogenic diet, to the Whole30 challenge. There is seemingly no end in sight for all the great ways to try and improve your body and mind.
If you are looking for a one-stop shop of improving the inside and outside of your body, consider incorporating probiotics in your daily life.
What are probiotics?
While we are all told that bacteria is bad for us, not all bacteria is created equal. In fact, human bodies are filled with literal trillions of bacteria that we need to live. From digestion, to immunity, to mental health, to skin health. The bacteria living in our body impacts it all.
People today tend to think of themselves as being separated from nature – but ignoring our natural needs and tendencies is a recipe for an unhealthy diet. More often than not, the key to living our most healthy lives, is tapping into our most natural diet and most natural way of life. One way we can do this is by feeding the bacteria within our bodies that offer many natural benefits to us. Learn more here.
This is called symbiosis. We help the healthy bacteria in our bodies colonize and grow inside our bodies’, and the bacteria offers loads of health benefits.
So what exactly are probiotics? Essentially, they are defined as organism that confer a positive health benefit to their host. It translates literally to “good life forms” and are most often microorganisms that are introduced to your body via oral ingestion.
In fact, according to a report by the highly reputable Mayo Clinic, probiotics “may help with digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria, just as the existing ‘good’ bacteria in your body already do.”
There are a lot of ways to introduce probiotics into your gut.
Oral probiotic supplements are probably the most common and easiest way to do it. The other way to introduce probiotics is to ingest foods that are naturally filled with tons of healthy bacteria. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi are famous probiotics, as are kefir and yogurt.
If you decide to go the route of probiotics, it is important to educate yourself on how to ensure that the probiotics survive and heat and stomach acid of your stomach and are actually able to make it to your gut.
You also want to make sure that once they make it to your gut, they have tons of food so that they can thrive and grow.
How do you do that, you ask? Very simple.
Probiotics alone won’t save you. Just like any other living thing, probiotics need food to grow! These foods are known as prebiotics and are filled with fibers that humans cannot digest, but bacteria easily can.
Prebiotic supplements exist, but it’s really easy to get prebiotics simply from the food we eat.
Here are some of the most common forms of prebiotics:
- Raw onions and garlic
Common types of probiotic microbes
There are several types of microbes that have a range of benefits on the body. If you are looking for your probiotics to impact something specific, this is a great place to start research.
This organism is possibly the most popular and most important probiotic when it comes to our health.
The reason for this is because they operate by producing lactic acids, vitamins, and chemicals that help fight off bad bacteria that try to share the same environment. That means that they help give your body’s natural immune system an added boost.
This is another incredibly well-known probiotic and. – if you couldn’t guess it from the name – are found in tons of every day dairy products like yogurt, kefir, chees, and more. This bacterium operates by taking in carbohydrates and turning them into lactic acid.
Research on probiotics is still very new, but despite that it has increasingly shown that the benefits of probiotics are based in real science. So what are those benefits? They range quite a bit.
The primary benefit of taking probiotics include a healthy gut. Bacteria in our bodies heal break down and digest foods and help turn those foods into nutrients. The bacteria break down the food we eat further and allow our bodies to easily absorb the rest. It allows our bodies to get the energy and nutrients it needs while spending way less energy doing so.
Supporting our gut health has also shown potential ties to mental health. A term deemed the gut-brain axis refers to the way in which our gut and our brain communicate with one another. Not only do the healthy microbes literally tell your brain to eat healthier – which can have pervasive effects on your entire body – it has also been hypothesized that probiotics can decrease the risk of depression and anxiety.
The other major positive impact that probiotics is proven to have on the body is that it boosts your natural immune system.
The reason for this is because the vast majority of our immune system actually lives in our gut – because that’s where pathogens typically go when they enter the body.
Probiotics help fight pathogens for a number of reasons. First off, they help out-compete harmful bacteria. When probiotics colonize so intensely, bad bacterium simply don’t have the room to make a habitat. On top of that, probiotics actually make compounds that are toxic to bacteria that are dangers for us – and in turn – dangerous to them.
On top of that, beneficial bacteria also help keep your natural immune system sharp. Interacting with neutral and helpful bacteria bacteria gives your immune system plenty of practice so they know how to deal with and attack actual threats when they are present.