Why We Need Probiotics

by | Aug 22, 2016


I’m pretty sure most people know what probiotics are.  They are the “good guys” when it comes to bacteria in your gut.  But it goes far beyond that!  Did you know that we are actually made up of more bacterial cells than the cells that make up our body tissues?  We are actually more bacteria than human 😉

Probiotics are needed for so many things 

  • bacteria make Vitamin K (for blood clotting) and some B vitamins (for energy)
  • constant presence of microbes = immune stimulation
  • aids digestion and helps to prevent against leaky gut
  • helps with constipation (large doses may create loose stools for a couple days as your body adapts to the dosage – to prevent this, work your way up in dosage)
  • helps lower cholesterol
  • regulates hormones
  • infection resistance
  • suppresses inflammation
  • reduces cancer risk (a healthy gut is the key to a healthy body)

Here are some common ways that our bacterial balance is upset 

  • antibiotics
  • steroids
  • oral contraceptive pills
  • Meat, dairy, eggs (non-organic)
  • stress
  • smoking
  • high sugar intake

Here are some foods that are naturally high in probiotics:

  • kefir (fermented milk)
  • organic miso paste
  • tempeh (fermented non GMO soy)
  • sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
  • fermented veggies
  • kimchi
  • kombucha (fermented tea)

*I would not include yogurt on this list for a couple reasons:

  1. Dairy is highly inflammatory and builds mucous in the system
  2. dairy is pasteurized (heated at high temperatures to kill bacteria) which kills most of the good bacteria in the yogurt, therefore is not a therapeutic dose of probiotics

There are also foods that create a perfect environment for probiotics to be absorbed and utilized.  This group of foods are called PREbiotics and they include some different classes of foods:

  • inulin (chicory root, onion, dandelions, garlic)
  • oligosaccharides (artichoke, leek, asparagus, broccoli)
  • beta-glucans (seaweed, oats, barley)
  • pectin (apples, apricots)
  • starches (bananas, potatoes, beans)

So, with all these foods, is it necessary to take a probiotic supplement?

I would recommend trying to get some pre and probiotic foods into your diet daily, but on top of that, I would still recommend a supplement because it comes at a much higher dosage.  Generally speaking, people are eating too much sugar and taking too many medications, so a probiotic supplement may be necessary.  And even if your diet is perfect and you don’t take meds, why not reap the benefits of having a super healthy digestive tract, strong immune system, and stable hormones?

Fun fact: taking probiotics during pregnancy can decrease your baby’s likelihood of getting allergies by 50%!

Supplementation – How do I choose the best probiotic?

Choosing a probiotic can be a daunting task.  There are so many different brands and dosages that it can get overwhelming.  Here is the good news: they’re all good!  There are over 500 strains of probiotics, so your best bet is to rotate between different probiotics and different strains.

A few rules of thumb:

  • find as many strains as you can (the more the better)
  • take in capsule form, not powder (this helps the probiotics pass through the acidic stomach acid relatively unharmed)
  • for maintenance and general health, stay between 10-30 billion CFU
  • for critical care (post antibiotics, taking birth control, steroid medications, smoker, high sugar diet, stressful lifestyle) take between 50-100 billion CFU
  • take your probiotic at night before bed


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