I’ve heard quite a lot about probiotics lately. Do I need to take one? Will it solve all my problems? Quite frankly, I’ve already got enough supplements to worry about, so is all the hype worth it?
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are mostly healthy bacteria that are good for your gut. Probiotics are in foods like yogurt, tempeh, kimchi, and fermented teas like kombucha. Recently people have been talking about probiotics like they we should take them as regularly as your daily vitamins. Although probiotics have many health benefits, including aiding in digestion, weight loss, balancing vaginal pH, enhanced immune function, and healthy skin, there isn’t enough conclusive research done to make a blanket statement that probiotics can help you with all of these things, no matter who you are.
If you don’t have any digestive issues and you start taking a probiotic to target digestion, it probably won’t do anything for you. If you do have digestive issues, though, and consult your doctor about probiotic options, they can likely recommend a specific probiotic that can help.
Just like the hundreds of bacteria in our gut, there are different probiotics for different things. If you have a specific issue that you think probiotics could help with, such as your digestion, you need the specific probiotic for that. People often think there is just one general probiotic that will work for everything.
What do Probiotics Do?
Probiotics can help with so many different issues if taking the correct one because there are so many bacteria in your gut. Anywhere from 500 to 1,000, to be exact. Your gut health and microbiome affects everything in your body. Some scientists view your gut flora as an organ because of all it does for our bodies. Your gut flora helps produce vitamins like vitamin K and B vitamins, and also turns fiber into fats, stimulates your immune system, and aids in digestion. Because your gut bacteria does so much for your body, if you get unhealthy bacteria in there, stuff can get thrown off. Some science is even suggesting that people who are healthy and fit have different gut bacteria than less healthy people.
Supplementing the healthy bacteria, you already get from your food with specific, targeted probiotics could help balance some things out. Doctors suggest eating probiotic-rich food to address gut bacteria-related issues first. If you aren’t incorporating healthy bacteria into your diet at all, merely taking a probiotic won’t be the most beneficial. It’s like if you spent every single day inside and never saw the sun, and just took a Vitamin D pill. You wouldn’t be living your best life.
For example, if you have issues with vaginal infections or a lot of urinary tract infections, taking a probiotic for vaginal health could help. Much like your gut, your vagina also has a bunch of healthy bacteria inside it. Wild, right?
If you’re interested in taking probiotics, talk to your doctor before you start popping them each morning with your gummy vitamins. If you take a probiotic for something you don’t need it for, it could throw off your gut health. Talk to your doctor and see what they say first.