Hi, friends! Checking in today to discuss probiotics. Specifically, how to choose them and why you might consider incorporating this supplement more into your diet! Because if you’re like me, at some point you made the decision to try using a probiotic. Then you went to a pharmacy or specialty food store, saw the shelves on shelves on shelves of options. And maybe you got utterly confused decided you didn’t really need it anyways. Or, you grabbed the one that looked most like a gummy bear and called it a day. (That actually was me.)
What can I say, ya know? I’m a sucker for gummy bears, I guess.
Fortunately, I’ve done extensive research since then and am much more educationally equipped to make these type grown up decisions. Sigh…it doesn’t come a pseudo candy form. Adult-ing is hard, yo.
So before we talk about how women might want to consider choosing a probiotic, let’s start with the “what” and “why”. Also, because I am not a doctor, and am simply giving you some my opinion on this topic, please see my full medical disclaimer at the bottom : )
(This post probably contains affiliate links. Full disclosure located at the bottom and on the Resources page)
Hippocrates said it best (imo)- “All disease begins in the gut.” As someone who neglected this theory and dearly paid the price in a multitude of physical ailments and conditions, I will never again ignore the health of my gut. My gut and me? We’re one of those annoyingly close, PDA-packed couples that’s constantly sharing too much information with those around them. I would apologize for our total love fest, but I’m not sorry so I won’t.
I talk frequently about how in order to chase your dreams and “create a life in color”, you usually have to actually feel well enough to go do it. At least that’s been my experience. And much of that starts with a healthy gut. It’s also the reason I eat the way I do, and why I created the 14 day Introduction to Paleo! (shameless plug- I’m offering 50% off with the discount code Paleo50 at checkout! You can access the program here)
Did you know that 80% of your immune system is located in your digestive system? Or that 95% of your serotonin (your happy hormone) is also manufactured there? Yep, your gut is considered by many to be your “second brain”!
Just those stats alone are enough for me to want to optimize what’s going on in there. Probiotics play a vital role in this! I tend to geek out on medical studies (and spent over a decade dissecting them in my former pharmaceuticals career), so if you’re into that type of thing, here’s the study that discusses this phenomenon.
So what really is a probiotic?
They’re live organisms in your gut!
Dr. Axe’s site defines them as “Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. Your body contains about the same number of gut bacteria molecules as it does cells for the rest of your body, so it’s no wonder your gut is so important to your health.”
Probiotics are still not entirely understood in the scientific and medical communities, but what we do know is that they come in the trillions. Yes, there are TRILLIONS of different strands of these dudes performing a variety of functions in your gut. You can add more into your diet by both consuming more probiotic rich fermented foods, like kimchi, coconut kefir and sauerkraut, or by taking a supplement. I do both.
And I include many recipes for these types of foods in my Paleo Program!
Oh, and another thing– Dr. Axe says you can protect the probiotics hanging out in your gut by avoiding sugar, alcohol (red wine excluded), smoking, inflammatory gluten, GMO foods, and other gut compromising activities. So protect whatcha got, folks!
Like I mentioned above, there are SO many different strands. Really, like so many I can’t even begin to fathom typing them all out. And welp, that would probs also bore you to tears. But, according to Dr. David Williams’ site, some of the most common strands are:
L. Acidophilus: Colonizes on the walls of small intestines and supports nutrient absorption. Assists in digestions of dairy.
B. Longum: Helps maintain the integrity of the gut wall and is especially involved in scavenging toxins.
B. Bifidum: Critical for digesting dairy, as well as breaking down carbs, fats, and proteins so they can be effectively stored and utilized.
A plethora of other strains exist, and I find understanding each of the roles they play in our systems to be fascinating. And that’s certainly one factor that should play into choosing a particular probiotic supplement. For example, as Dr. Williams references, the probiotic strain L. Rhamnosus is considered to help prevent traveller’s diarrhea. So when I’m leaving the country, I might be inclined to pick up a supplement with more active cultures of this bacteria.
Keep in mind, there are certainly other elements that you should take into consideration when choosing a probiotic!
After scouring the sites of all my fav scientists, physicians, and nutritionists, I found most basically agree on these rules of thumb (or gut?)…
I try to switch up my probiotics every 6 months or so, but currently I’m using Hyperbiotics’ Pro-15 Probiotics. Since I’m an Amazon Prime for almost everything, shocker– I purchase them from there. You can get them here.
They may seem a bit pricey compared to say my ol’ gummy bear probiotics, but there’s a good reason why. These probiotics check off all of the boxes I listed above! It has a time-released delivery system with multiple strains of probiotics, in the billions. And, also has a money back guarantee and expiration date. And for good gut health, I’m okay with investing a bit more. In fact, can you even imagine how much healthier we’d all be if we made these kind of investments a priority??? Somewhere in my brain I just head the words “Challenge ACCEPTED”. ; )
I’ll keep you posted as I fall in love with other brands, but for now you’ve got my rec and a list of what to look for to take with you!
If you are currently using a probiotic supplement, which one do you prefer? Leave a comment, as I love hearing what other great options are out there!
To good gut health and creating a life in color,
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult with your physician first before trying any new physical activity, supplement, or dietary changes.