Probiotics: Beyond the Gut

July 15, 2016

Woman eating yogurtIf you like probiotics, you probably know about how helpful they can be when you have a tummy ache. You can avoid it altogether if you grab some probiotics as soon as you eat something iffy, but you can really see the effect if you take a couple because your stomach starts to tense, and it soon stops!

But probiotics have effects so far beyond the gut. For one, they’re not just in the gut. They’re everywhere (especially on the skin). They work as a first-line of defense for your immune system, crowding out and even fighting pathogens (just like when you eat something spoiled or contaminated). They play a similar role on the skin, offering extra protection for minor cuts and even affecting acne.

And they impact many aspects of our health, from our brain/mood, to weight, to diseases we get—including diabetes.

For some people who are living ideal diets with healthy amounts of exercise, it might be their bacterial colonies that keep their weight on. For people who are a healthy weight, they might be triggering diabetes. And researchers are regularly finding new correlations between what kind of bacteria we nurture and our health.

Now, to a certain extent, it goes both ways. “Prebiotics”, which include wholesome foods like garlic, onion, and other vegetables, support a “good” probiotic colony. Antibiotics, sugary foods, and other things associated with bad health can overturn a good probiotic colony with “bad” bacteria (and can sometimes create a situation where a virus or fungus take over).

To help keep the balance in favor of good bacteria, regularly eating good bacteria helps. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and some pickled foods (usually the refrigerated ones) help re-seed, or you can be consistent with a daily probiotic supplement (which is also a better option if you’re avoiding dairy, salt, and other ingredients that often come hand in hand with certain fermentation processes, or the dangers of a misstep when you do-it-yourself).

Support more than your gut, support your overall health with a daily probiotic supplement.

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