You may have heard increasing talk of “gut health” recently, and there’s good reason for it.  The health of your gut plays a major role in your overall health and well-being.  The wrong bacteria in the wrong place can cause problems for your digestive and overall health, but the right bacteria in the right place can have benefits — this is where probiotics come in.

 

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria/microorganisms that are good for you, especially your digestive system.  Studies show they promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria and have been linked to a wide range of health benefits including weight loss.  You can find probiotics in supplements and some foods, such as yogurt.  There are many benefits to adding a probiotic to your diet:

 

  1. Some probiotic strains can help heart health by lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure.
  2. Probiotics can help prevent and treat diarrhea. Often, diarrhea is a side effect of taking antibiotics, as they eliminate all bacteria in the digestive tract.  You may have had a doctor suggest eating yogurt when prescribing an antibiotic for this very reason.
  3. Probiotics may improve some mental health conditions; studies link your gut health to mental health. Taking a probiotic supplement may improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.
  4. Studies show that taking probiotics can help temporary inflammation and support your bones’ rebuilding process.
  5. Research indicates that regularly taking probiotic supplements can help your body manage blood sugar appropriately.
  6. Probiotics can support testosterone levels—one study also demonstrated that they may help promote reproductive health and fertility.
  7. Improve immune function

 

Where Do You Find Probiotics?

Fermented or cultured dairy products are a major source of probiotics. Other sources of probiotics include:

  • miso
  • tempeh
  • soy beverages
  • buttermilk
  • fermented milk
  • yogurt