Should I be taking probiotics? That’s the question I get almost weekly from clients. With “gut health” being a topic on everyone’s mind, I figured I would respond here the same way I respond there. Still have questions? Ask them below and I will respond and add them into this post.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that have beneficial health benefits. We often think of bacteria and microorganisms as germs, but most of these bacteria actually help our body function properly. In fact, microorganisms in the body outnumber human cells by 10 to 1; these bacteria are essential for digesting food, destroying actual disease-causing bugs and helping to produce certain vitamins. Since most of these bacteria live in the gut, we’ll focus there.
Both probiotic foods and supplements have an important role in rebalancing gut flora by boosting the good bacteria living in your gut. Good digestive health is also a key part of maintaining your immunity as 70% of the immune system is in your gut.
Where can I find probiotics?
You can get probiotics from supplements, as well as foods that are prepared by fermentation. Probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha and a few others. Probiotics are different from prebiotics, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
The problem with fermented foods is that it’s hard to know exactly how much you’re consuming. Therefore, I often recommend a probiotic supplement for a more reliable way to get the right amount of probiotics. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat probiotic-rich foods— it just means that adding in a supplement ensures you are getting the maximum benefits.
Are probiotics different from prebiotics?
Yes—and you need both. Prebiotics are a dietary fiber that helps to promote the growth of microorganisms. Think of them like fertilizer that assists healthy bacteria to grow. The good news is that a diet rich in plant-based foods, which typically contains lots of resistant starches, soluble and insoluble fibers, provides most of the prebiotics that we need.
Are refrigerated probiotics better than non-refrigerated probiotics?
All live cultures will die over time, though supplements use a variety of packaging techniques to help slow down this process. Probiotic supplements are tested to ensure they maintain potency through their expiration date, regardless if they are refrigerated or not. So, shelf-stable probiotics have enough cultures to stay potent until the expiration date. Renew Life’s quality, purity and potency are guaranteed through expiration.
Which probiotics are best?
I always look for probiotic supplements with delayed-release capsules, which help protect the live cultures from stomach acid. Renew Life’s Extra Care 30 billion and Women’s Care 25 billion contain delayed-release capsules so more probiotics reach the intestinal tract.
Additionally, probiotics may contain a variety of microorganisms. The most common are bacteria that belong to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Each of these two broad groups includes many different strains of bacteria. Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic contains 30 billion cultures and 12 Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotic strains to support digestive and immune health.
Where can I find quality probiotics?
While you can purchase probiotics at online and specialty retailers, I usually head to Target! Since I’m there a few times a week anyways, it’s the perfect place to stock up on my wellness favorites.
And get 10% savings now on Renew Life® Ultimate Flora™ Probiotics through 8/11 at @Target.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Renew Life® though all statements and thoughts are my own. The statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.