Everything You Wanted to Know About Probiotics and Gut Health
Written by: Linda Celauro
You might be surprised to learn that how you feel – and even how you look every day – is directly tied to the health of your gut.
To maintain good health, your gut must properly absorb nutrients and help eliminate waste and toxins on a daily basis.
Did you know…
Roughly 70% of your immune system resides in your gut!
If your gut isn’t healthy, you won’t be either!
Your intestines, which lie between the stomach and rectum, are part of the Gl tract – or digestive system. In the small and large intestines, food is broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream, providing your cells and organs with the energy they need to function. Your intestines do this with the help of good bacteria (aka microflora).
The word “probiotic” (pro = for, bio = life) was coined to describe the use of beneficial bacteria to positively influence health.
These “good bacteria” aid in digestion, promote vital nutrient production, help maintain pH balance and prevent proliferation of unwelcomed bacteria. From the time of birth, your body is inhabited by these good bacteria. Changes in diet, stress, antibiotic use and aging and other factors can disrupt this delicate balance.
Lack of good bacteria can lead to:
- Digestion issues
- Poor bowel function and flatulence
- A weakened immune system
- Poor nutrient absorption
- Low energy levels
Lack of good bacteria is extremely common, given the toxic world that we live in. Probiotics are good bacteria strains that limit the proliferation of unwelcomed bacteria in the intestinal tract by crowding them out.
Today, the scientific field agrees that probiotics offer a broad range of health benefits when taken regularly in sufficient amounts.
We are all conditioned to think of bacteria as “trouble-makers.” It’s hard to accept that you may actually have too few of these organisms in your digestive system. Yet, that is actually quite common. And when it happens, your body lets you know with occasional sluggishness, irregularity, bloating, or a weakened immune response, leading to colds and other illnesses.
There is a synergistic relationship between good bacteria and your body: You provide the bacteria with a safe place to live and grow and they help you digest, absorb and assimilate nutrients from your food and eliminate and maintain healthy intestinal function. It works very well… as long as there are enough of them.
However, not all probiotic bacteria are identical. They differ on the basis of species, strain and results. Also, it has been shown that organisms must both live and colonize within the gut to induce beneficial effects. Unfortunately, a lot of probiotics don’t even reach the intestine and offer no benefits. Probiotics are fragile, live bacteria. Probiotic cultures vary and the benefit of a probiotic is not measured simply by the number of living bacteria in a pill. The beneficial effects of the presence of probiotics in the gastrointestinal tract depend on the ability of the bacteria to survive and colonize.
“A colony forming unit (CFU) is a bacteria or yeast that is capable of living and reproducing to form a group of the same bacteria or yeasts.” The probiotic effect involves a significant number of CFU (preferably 10 billion CFU or more per serving.)
Most probiotics will include the 2 major strains: Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum, however, the best probiotic supplements will go above and beyond by including several more strains. Aim for at least 10 individual strains, which seems to be the most therapeutic for individuals.
Stress is also a major player in gut health. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Research indicates that probiotics may profoundly affect the brain-gut interactions and overall health. Diffuse the impact of stress by taking time to enjoy nature, practice yoga and deep breathing techniques. Finding a way to control your level of stress is absolutely essential for your recovery. The message is clear – relax, live well and listen to your gut!
Certified Holistic Health Coach, Certified Weight Loss Specialist, Detoxification Specialist, and Motivational Speaker
at Savour Wellness
Linda Celauro is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Certified Weight Loss Specialist, Detoxification Specialist and motivational speaker. She is also the author of “Healthy Eating Manifesto.”
Linda helps her clients nourish their mind and body for weight loss, optimal health and sustainable wellness transformations, by focusing on their uniqueness. She is a member of AADP and IAHC, where she is regarded as an expert in her field. To receive her healthy tips and newsletter, connect with her on her website.
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