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Take them right, and you’ll improve your digestion exponentially!
Probiotics are one of the best foods you can eat.
Not only do they fuel the beneficial bacteria in your gut, but you’ll find that they will improve nearly every other aspect of your health.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, increase brain function, enhance digestion, or just get your body functioning optimally, you’ll love what probiotics can do for you.
Below, we’re going to take a deep dive into how they can change your life.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are foods that contain live bacteria cultures. Typically, they are fermented foods, including:
and so many more!
The live bacteria cultures in probiotics act as reinforcements for the bacteria currently living in your gut. They provide more beneficial bacteria, which in turn reinforces your gut barrier, prevents the over-growth of harmful bacteria, and helps to restore digestive balance after taking antibiotics or suffering from an illness.
Studies have suggested that probiotics can also improve brain function, boost your metabolism, improve energy levels, as well as support oral and skin health. However, the real benefits are focused around your digestive tract, where the beneficial bacteria in the probiotics get to work improve intestinal function and the breakdown, absorption, and elimination of the food you eat.
Basically, if you’re not eating probiotics yet, it’s definitely in your best interest to start doing so ASAP!
How to Get More Probiotics In Your Diet
As mentioned above, there are a lot of foods that contain live bacteria cultures that act as probiotics. These foods can be eaten as part of your regular meal—for example, kimchi on your Korean food, sauerkraut on your hot dog, or live-culture yoghurt for breakfast.
The beauty of these probiotic foods is that they’ll get to work right away on improving your gut health, as the reinforcements will fuel the function of the bacteria already at work in your intestines.
However, some people find that probiotic foods aren’t an option, given dietary restrictions or the availability of those foods. In these cases, they often prefer to take a probiotic supplement—essentially a capsule that contains live-culture bacteria.
For some types of bacteria, it’s better to take the supplements on an empty stomach. This is the case for the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus supplements. Taking them 30 minutes before your meal gives them the best chance of surviving to reach the intestines and join the ranks of your existing gut bacteria.
For Saccharomyces boulardii, on the other hand, it’s okay to take them with a meal, as they’ll survive equally regardless of whether or not they’re consumed with other foods.
The key here is to consult the instructions that come with the supplement. You’ll typically find that the manufacturer has conducted studies to determine when is the most effective time to take the supplement—before, during, or after a meal—and they’ll include instructions on the best time to take it.
In the end, consistency is what matters!
As long as you’re taking it daily, you’ll find that there will be positive changes in your gut microbiome over time.
Eating to Increase Probiotic Activity
The composition of your meals will definitely have an effect on the bacteria in your gut, as well as the bacteria you’re consuming in the form of probiotic foods or supplements.
Any food that is rich in dietary fiber will act as “fuel” to feed the bacteria. You’ll find that a high-fiber diet drastically increases gut bacteria activity, and it makes it easier for the bacteria in your probiotics to take root in your intestines.
Taking the probiotics alongside fiber-rich foods can be a good way to ensure a higher survival rate. Small amounts of dietary fat—such as the fat from milk—can also improve bacterial survival. Lactobacillus supplements, on the other hand, survive better when consumed in conjunction with carbs or sugars, as they consume glucose in order to multiply and survive in the acidic environment of your stomach and intestines.
Whether you take the probiotics before, during, or after the meal, it’s still important to eat right to give the bacteria the highest possible chances of surviving.
Types of Probiotic Supplements
There are a surprising number of supplement types to choose from when taking probiotics:
In-food (such as fermented milks or active culture yoghurts)
All of these supplements are designed to survive the digestive enzymes in your stomach that break down food. For example, capsules are made with a special lining that is resistant to your stomach acid but only release its contents when it hits the intestines. Tablets, beads, and capsules have the highest bacteria survival rate of any supplement.
Interestingly enough, yoghurt is also equally effective at protecting the bacteria through the stomach enzymes. Between the fat and sugar, there is enough to shield the probiotics from being degraded by stomach acid.
Also, certain types of bacteria—Enterococci, Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium—are resistant to the acid in your stomach, which means they have a higher survival rate.
Each supplement contains a specific number of bacteria cultures. That number can range from the tens of millions of colony-forming units (CFUs) into the billions.
According to past studies, no fewer than 100 million CFUs have to survive the digestion process and reach your intestines for there to be any noticeable health benefits. Ideally, the more CFUs there are in the probiotic supplement, the higher the chance that enough will survive the process.
You should look for supplements that contain at least 1 billion CFUs. That way, even if some of the bacteria die off during the digestion process or while the supplement is sitting on your shelf waiting for you to take your daily dose, enough will survive that you’ll see real benefits from taking the probiotics!
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