Probiotics: What are they and how should you choose one?

Why take probiotics? What probiotics are best? Should you take probiotics with or without food? The goal of this blog post is to answer some of the basics about probiotics.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are the "good" bacteria that live in your gut and help your body break down food and absorb nutrients. They are available in foods containing live cultures, for example: pickles, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, kombucha. Probiotics are also available in supplement form. If you're struggling with any gut related issues, it's good to consider the amount of good bacteria--probiotics--in your diet. A good ratio of good to bad gut bacteria is 85:15.

Why take probiotics?

Probiotics are essential for maintaining healthy gut function. They may also help treat IBS, intestinal infections, and diarrhea. Recent studies show that the gut is responsible for producing a large amount of the body's serotonin which can effect mood and other cognitive issues such as anxiety, depression, and more. The gut brain connection is a two-way link. A stressed state of mind can cause digestive issues, likewise digestive issues can cause cognitive issues.

A few tips when it comes to choosing a probiotic

  • Choose a probiotic with a high CFU
  • Probiotics with at least 5 strains of bacteria: Three examples of bacteria strains that are known to have most healing powers for the gut are: Lactobacillus plantarumL. paracasei, and L. acidophilus.
  • Probiotics without dairy: my recommendation for the most gut friendly supplement, are vegan probiotics without any added fillers. 
  • Choose a probiotic that is shelf stable: probiotics that do not need to be refrigeratrd will be more effective, in both cost and function.

If you just want it quick and easy, here is my favourite probiotic supplement that I have found to be the most effective for my body.

Best time to take a probiotic:

Should I take probiotics with or without food is a common question I get. The answer: take directly after a meal. Avoid taking after a shot of apple cider vinegar or on an empty stomach. If the stomach is too acidic the probiotic is not as effective.

Curious if your diet could be causing an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut? Check out my blog post about Candida. In the Candida article, I go over the conditions that cause a bad bacteria overgrowth and lifestyle factors that kill good bacteria.

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