We got schooled on the good bacteria.
Probiotics. What do you really know about them? Okay, so you know your morning yogurt says “good source of probiotics” across the label, ditto your kombucha, and you’ve been told kimchi is packed full of the stuff. So, what’s the point of taking a supplement? If your diet includes a decent amount of the fermented food mentioned above, isn’t that sufficient? Well, friends, another day, another debunked health-related media-fueled fact...kinda. First, let’s get one thing out of the way, we’re in no way saying that you shouldn’t stock your diet with the high-quality, natural versions of the aforementioned foods. But, and it’s a big BUT, according to Dr. Nigel Plummer, PhD and medical advisor to Genestra Brands, who specializes in probiotics and natural antimicrobials, they may not be the only source of probiotics your body needs. So we asked him to lay down all the ground rules, and clear the air on everything you need to know about this good-for-you bacteria.
Why Probiotics are Essential
“Probiotics protect us from infections, and prime and help stimulate our immune functions. We also know now that the bacteria that lives in our GI tract have other deeper functions that might be involved in cognitive functions. The trial work over the last 25 years has shown that the many benefits of taking probiotics include prevention of diarrhea, reduction of coughs, colds, developing allergies, and mild depression, and also improving cognitive functions. Probiotics are the most beneficial types of bacteria that we have naturally in our intestinal tract. When we use probiotics, we put these very beneficial types back into the gut, and then increase numbers to give enhanced benefits.”
1. You Need More Than Probiotic-Loaded Foods (Sorry, Guys!)
“Food that contains probiotics or probiotic-type organisms naturally, like yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi, contain the same type of organism but are slightly different to what you see in a clinically researched probiotic supplement. These organisms are very good at making yogurt or kimchi, but they’re not necessarily the best type of probiotic organism to benefit the intestinal tract and your health. If you want a probiotic that gives you the most benefits to your health, then the best thing is to seek out a supplement where there are demonstrated clinical benefits.”
2. Take It With Food
“Always take probiotics with food—this is a really important one. Don’t take probiotics on an empty stomach. It doesn’t have to be a huge meal, but it does need to be a little snack, and you should take the probiotic immediately before eating, whilst eating, or within half an hour of completing your meal or snack.”
3. Don’t Go in Blind
“When looking for a probiotic, the very best way [to choose one] is to seek guidance from a professional healthcare provider or a naturopath.”
4. Definitely Take It When...
“Whenever you’re on an antibiotic, it is really essential to take a probiotic alongside it. Antibiotics destroy this fantastic community of bacteria that is in your intestinal tract, probiotics put it back.”
5. Start Young (Like, Really Young)
“Probiotics train the immune system to act and develop in the right way. There are types of probiotics that are available now specifically for newborn babies. And it’s also particularly important to take them during pregnancy. There is lots and lots of research out there that shows probiotics really do help boost the immune system, particularly during the winter, and taking probiotics can decrease the risk of developing coughs and colds by 50 percent.”
6. Store Them Properly
“Probiotic supplements are living supplements—the bacteria are still alive, so you need to treat them carefully. Don’t store them in heat, keep them in the refrigerator.”