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Our Body's Natural "Microbiome"
What many people don’t know is that our body provides a home for TRILLIONS of bacteria. These bacteria have many different functions, some that we would never expect, and some that scientists still haven’t even found! Bacteria found in our intestine (AKA our gut!) play many different roles. These roles, include assisting with digestion of food and helping the body defend against pathogens or "harmful bacteria". They also play a role in the synthesis of some vitamins like Vitamin B and K!
What’s even MORE interesting is that the number of bacteria found in an average person’s gut is about 10 times more than the amount of cells in a persons body! In other words, bacteria are seriously abundant and play a huge role in the healthy functioning of our bodies! Some scientists even consider the human Microbiome as an organ in itself and future research regarding its functions in health and disease are very promising.
What are Probiotics:
Probiotics are live active bacteria that can be found in some food products or in supplement form, and if taken properly they may improve the balance and "symbiosis" of healthy bacteria in the gut. Supplements are usually in the form of a pill or sachet and should be taken on a daily basis!
Probiotics can also be found in Food.....
These include fermented foods such as yogurts with live cultures, kefir, kombucha tea, tempeh, kimchi and miso due to the live bacteria found in these foods.
The Best Probiotic Supplements:
When choosing a Probitoic supplement….there is no “one size fits all”. In order to chose a Probiotic supplement one needs to consider what benefit they are aiming to get out of the supplement.
For example, many people who suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) may take a Probiotic supplement to aid with digestion as some supplements have been linked to digestive health.
Probiotic supplements may also be beneficial for circumstances where there has been a disruption of balance in the intestine, such as after a person has the flu or a bug and may have experienced diarrhea, or maybe after a course of antibiotics which may have disturbed a persons natural Microbiota.
The main strains of bacteria found in probiotic supplements are bifidobacterium and lactobacillus or yeast (saccharomyces boulardii).
CAUTION: Because Probiotic supplements fall under the category of supplements and not food, they are not regulated by the US FDA. Therefore, many Probiotic supplements on the market may not contain sufficient amounts of bacteria and in some cases the bacteria may not be alive. HENCE you will be spending money and not getting any true benefits from them.
Purchasing a Probiotic Supplement?
Research suggests that Probiotic supplement sales exceeded a WHOPPING $35 Billion in 2015!! This figure has continued to rise since! The market is huge which means we must be extra careful of misleading marketing ploys when choosing Probiotic supplements!
Firstly, ask yourself.... What are you buying the supplement for? and What are you hoping to achieve from it? Many good quality Probiotic supplements are expensive and should be taken for at least 3 months before any benefits are seen.
Always look for a supplement with a reliable/ reputable brand and most importantly is backed by REAL science.
Look for a supplement that contains the specific ingredient for the benefits you are seeking. Many products on the shelves contain a mix of bacteria and yeasts that may not work well together.
As a general rule..probiotic supplements should have AT LEAST 1 billion CFU's (colony forming units) or viable cells! SO check the label!
Make sure all supplements are well within their expiration dates as bacteria die over time! and you may not get the value for your money.
THE MICROBIOME is a vast and very interesting part of the human body. Probiotics may have benefits when taken correctly in the right circumstances!
Keep following @LKNutrition to learn more as new research emerges!
Also, at LKN private nutrition services you can learn more about gut health and disease and how to choose the right foods for YOU.