An easy way to improve your health is with probiotics.
Our gut health is a strong indicator of our overall health. How often do you “trust your gut?”
And when you’re upset, where do you feel it?
Sick to your stomach, right?
So when you can keep our digestive track happy and healthy, you’ll notice an improvement in your overall health and well-being.
Stick with me in this post. I know it may seem a little awkward and uncomfortable to discuss our insides. I want to see you healthy inside and out.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are just bacteria. There are “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. The bad kind gets you sick and the good kind boosts your immune system.
Usually when people talk about probiotics, they’re talking about taking a supplement.
How Do They Help You?
Probiotics increase the friendly bacteria in your large intestine. When there is an imbalance, you can take probiotics to restore the natural balance in your gut.
How Do They Get Imbalanced?
When you have to take antibiotics for an infection, it kills all of the bacteria in your system, including the good ones.
An imbalance of gut flora can also happen because of illness and poor diet.
What Else Can Probiotics Help With?
Probiotics can help with so many areas of your health.
Some of these may seem awkward. But this is your body. You’re a beautiful system. And you want to keep everything running in top shape.
They can help prevent diarrhea. A large review of 35 studies found that certain strains of probiotics can reduce the duration of infectious diarrhea by an average of 25 hours.
Probiotics also reduced the risk of travelers’ diarrhea by 8%. So make sure you pack them along in your bags.
Are you lactose intolerant? Probiotics have been shown to help ease the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Some people have found it reduces the severity of certain allergies and eczema since it helps improve your immune system as well as reduce the inflammatory response in some people.
I should mention that reducing inflammation like that is still in the very early stages of research. But some people have had positive results with relief from rheumatoid arthritis.
And people who have certain stomach and respiratory infections, especially in children, have found relief by taking probiotics.
Additional studies have found a connection probiotics preventing yeast infections and making it easier to treat an existing one. They can also help prevent and treat a urinary tract infection.
Happy Heart and Happy Mind
There are continued studies going on that seem to indicate that taking probiotic supplements for 8 weeks decreased depression levels. There’s definitely a mind-body connection going on.
In addition, some probiotic strains may help keep your heart healthier by reducing LDL or “bad” cholesterol. It may also help with reducing blood pressure.
Ease Crohn’s Disease
The strains Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus have been shown in tests to ease the symptoms of people with inflammatory bowel diseases including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Many inflammatory bowel diseases are related to an imbalance in gut flora as well as inflammation.
Probiotics heals your inside reducing inflammations and it restores the balance of the good bacteria.
What Are the Downsides to Probiotics?
For most people, the only negative is that initially, you may have some gas and bloating while your body is getting used to the increase in gut flora.
If you are immune-compromised, you should talk with your doctor before taking probiotics.
Also, if you are pregnant, you should ask your physician if there could be any issues with you taking a probiotic. Some people feel that the increase in your immune system could have a negative effect.
Yet other studies that followed the children born from women who took probiotics during pregnancy had an 83% lower risk of developing eczema in their first two years of life.
So the jury is out, and the decision to take probiotics while you’re pregnant is one that you need to evaluate carefully.
It’s possible that probiotics could trigger an allergic reaction in some people.
And don’t take probiotics after having had surgery or if you’re critically ill.
How Often Do You Take Them?
In supplements, the dosage is listed as CFUs or Colony Forming Units. And the CFU can range into the billions depending upon the type of supplement you’re taking.
InnerOrigin has a variety of probiotic supplements that you can try. The dosage will depend upon what you buy. Read the packet for directions on how to supplement.
Can Kids Take Them?
Young children and infants should not take probiotic supplements. They’re safe in older children. Check with your pediatrician to see what she recommends.
You can feed your child probiotics foods which I’ll talk about more in the next section.
Can Pets Take Them?
Your pets can take the same probiotics as you with no harm. And yes, that includes cats as well as dogs.
There are special supplements out there just for pets. You can compare the CFU’s and strains of bacteria in the pet supplements and compare them to yours.
I suspect they’ll be very similar for a lot less.
Your pets will probably have the same adjustment period as you do, so you may want to ease them in slowly.
Are There Other Ways to Get Probiotics?
Probiotic supplents come in powder, liquid, and pill form.
You can get natural probiotics through yogurt and other fermented foods like
- pickled vegetables
Some probiotics can be destroyed by stomach acid. So you should take a good supplement along with eating a well balanced diet.
My Final Thoughts
As with most naturopathic healing, the scientific studies don’t always seem to support positive results.
Some people ask if you need to take them if you’re healthy. That’s a personal decision. However, I don’t see any harm in using them to keep your gut balanced.