Haven’t you heard? Probiotics are all the rage!
A 2012 study showed that about four million U.S adults had used probiotics in the last 30 days.
Curious to see what all the fuss is about? If you were to do a google search on probiotics you would be riddled with results. It can be difficult to discern the best probiotics for women. If you’re interested in starting a probiotic regimen, the right kinds can do wonders for your overall health and wellness.
Keep reading to learn more about the different types of probiotics and how they can be a vital tool for your individual needs.
What Is a Probiotic?
Probiotics are bacteria or other microscopic living organisms, like yeast. Yes, I said bacteria!
The good news is that not all bacteria are bad. Probiotics can be found in food or taken in supplement form. There is still a lot to be learned about the different types of probiotics and how they work, but expert studies have found that consuming probiotic foods and supplements can positively affect your body in many ways.
While probiotics have been around for many years, their recent popularity has made them more prevalent on the shelves of your local grocery store or pharmacy.
There are many different types of probiotics you can buy, but the most common probiotic bacteria come from two groups: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Probiotics foods include yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut.
The best probiotic supplements can contain one or both strains and come in both pill and powder form.
The Role of Microorganisms
Now that you know the basics of probiotics, let’s dive in deeper and learn about the effects of probiotic foods and supplements have on our bodies.
Ever heard that saying, “You can feel it deep down in your gut”? Well, your gut is of particular importance when it comes to the way that probiotics work.
Did you know that there are thousands of microorganisms having a party in your gut as we speak? This community of microorganisms is called the microbiome. The microbiome includes different types of bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. Each person’s bacterial flora or gut flora is completely unique
Your gut flora is so awesomely intuitive that scientists often liken it to an organ. Coined as the “microbe organ,” it’s said to be as big and as important as the liver! Gut flora helps you properly digest food, protects you from bad microorganisms (pathogens), helps detoxify harmful compounds, produces vitamins and nutrients, helps keep your gut healthy, and helps to balance your immune system.
Whew! That’s a lot of responsibility!
The microbiome contains a mixed population of both good and bad bacteria. Sometimes, the ratio of bad bacteria overpowers the ratio of good bacteria and consumption of probiotics can help swing the odds back in the good guys’ favor.
Probiotics for Weight Loss
While probiotics alone are not a sure-fire weight-loss strategy, research has shown that there is a link between reduced bacterial gut diversity and obesity. Dysbiosis, which refers to an imbalance of gut microbes, occurs when the microbiome environment gets overpopulated with harmful bacteria. Though not an underlying cause, dysbiosis has been shown to contribute to obesity.
Remember that party in your tummy? If there aren’t enough helpful bacteria present to keep the harmful microorganisms in check, the party can go south fairly quickly.
Regular consumption of probiotic foods or supplements can help save the day by repopulating the microbiome with good bacteria. Bringing balance back to the gut flora helps correct dysbiosis and can help promote weight loss.
Other Benefits of Probiotics
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved skin health
- Improved immune function
Types of Probiotics
While scientists and researchers still don’t know everything about probiotics, it is clear that certain strains may carry different benefits depending on the condition you’re trying to treat. As mentioned above, the two that are the most widely researched and proven to be the safest and best probiotic strains are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Lactobacillus bacteria are the most commonly used probiotic supplement. This bacteria is also found in probiotic foods such as yogurt with active cultures, tempeh, and fermented foods such as miso.
Lactobacillus Acidophilus bacteria are typically cultured in milk or other dairy products. In supplement form, the bacteria are freeze-dried into powder or capsules.
Much like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium can be found cultured in milk. Probiotic foods containing Bifidobacterium include sauerkraut and kimchi. Supplements containing Bifidobacterium can be taken on their own, but are often combined with Lactobacillus. Combining these two strains of probiotics helps to increase the diversity of bacteria in the gut.
When looking at the supplement facts on a bottle of probiotics, it can be confusing if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. The two main strains, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are typically abbreviated followed by the name of the particular species of the strain. Some common species and what they do include:
- Improving digestive health: Varies. Whether you’re suffering from constipation or diarrhea, many combinations of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have been found to ease bowel symptoms.
- Weight loss: L. gasseri and L. rhamnosus separately or a combination of L. rhamnosus and B. lactis.
- Boosting immune function: L. rhamnosus, L. crispatus, L. gasseri, B. bifidum, and B. longum
- Improving overall health: L. gasseri, B. bifidum, and B. longum
How to Take Probiotics
Knowing what foods have probiotics will be key in adding probiotic-rich foods into your diet. Eating probiotic foods or consuming a nutritional shake mix such as LadyBossⓇ LEAN will help keep your digestive health in check.
If you choose to take a probiotic supplement, proper dosing is important. Probiotics are typically measured in CFUs, or colony-forming units. A probiotic should provide at least 1 billion CFUs, with doses typically ranging between 1 billion and 10 billion CFUs daily for adults.
Studies have shown that higher doses of probiotics are not only safe but can be more effective overall. A general rule of thumb is to take your probiotic supplement as instructed on the bottle.
A Healthy Addition
Probiotics offer a wide range of health benefits and are safe with little to no side effects.
Adding a daily probiotic regimen, whether it be from probiotic foods or supplementation can help improve your gut health and may help you lose weight. Proper nutrition and daily exercise, however, are the most important factors when it comes to improving your overall health.