When you hear about “gut health,” you essentially hear about the effect of probiotics on your body. Here is a more in-depth discussion of what that means.
What Is The Microbiome?
Your body has several very complex systems that keep you going. There is a complex system of hormones that control your organs and tissues functioning like they are supposed to. There is a complex system of pumps and tubes that oxygenate all of your body cells to keep you alive and kicking. Finally, there is a complex community of tiny organisms, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi, that all work together to keep your body healthy — despite all of the bad things we might eat, drink, and do to it every day. This last system is sometimes called the “microbiome,” and it is full of microorganisms that we call “probiotics,” or sometimes, “flora.”
Our microbiomes exist in our GI tracts, urinary tracts, skin, lungs, and in women in the vagina. Since there are a lot of bacteria in this microbiome that will make us sick if they somehow get out of our gut and end up in a place that should be sterile (without any bacteria at all), we get sick and treat the problem with antibiotics to fight the resultant infection. This will help rid us of the infection and kill off a lot of the “good” bacteria in the microbiome.
These are the back and forth struggles that occur within our bodies that cause our flora to die off, making us feel sick and develop the disease. Because of this, we need to support the health of the microbiome and the probiotics that live there.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics make the environment that good bacteria, or flora, live in better for their survival. One of the very best supplements that you can take to support the microbiome is called Inulin. Inulin is a potent prebiotic. It is a kind of carbohydrate that grows in many different plants, including several that we eat. It is a kind of carbohydrate that we can’t digest, but bacteria in the microbiome can. Since we can’t use it for calories, our gut flora can build up a strong community of bacteria and keep us feeling good.
You can find Inulin in pill or powder form, and it is an excellent prebiotic. The inulin in supplements is usually harvested from the chicory plant. You can get natural inulin in many plants, including asparagus, apples, dandelion leaf, onions, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem Artichokes, and bananas.
What Are Some Probiotic Supplements?
If you have recently taken antibiotics, if you have a yeast infection, if you feel sluggish or ill, if you have digestive issues, or if you just want to boost the number of probiotics in your gut and elsewhere, there are lots of great ways to do that.
Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy to recommend a probiotic supplement or pill because the kind of probiotics you need depends on what type of health issues you have, your gender, and other variables. There are many probiotic blends to choose from (GoBiotix is an excellent place to start looking), but no one pill is the answer to everyone’s issues. You should pick a probiotic meant to help the same kind of issues you are concerned with.
If you are having problems like reflux, diarrhea, constipation, or other GI upset issues, then you should look for probiotics that address those types of problems. If you have had multiple vaginal yeast infections, you should look for a blend of probiotics for women’s health issues. Take the time to shop around and find what you need and what best addresses your health issues or needs.
Probiotic foods are a fantastic way to boost your microbiome, no matter what your health problems. Start by looking for fermented foods, which are high in probiotics. Yogurt with active cultures is a great place to start, as are kimchi and sauerkraut. Other high-probiotic foods are kefir, tempeh, miso, and kombucha. Some of these might be new to you, but if you ask around in your health food section, you should be able to find them.