7 Common Habits That Damage Your Gut Health

You might not know it, but there are probably a few things you’ve been doing for years that could be hurting your gastrointestinal tract. Your gut health has a lot to do with your overall health. Some of your bad habits could be doing some severe damage.

Here’s just a bit of background about how the bacteria in your body play a role in your gut health – and how your bad habits might be causing big problems.

What’s Going On Down There?

The gut is home to trillions of bacteria. Some of them are bad for you, but some of them are actually very good for you. When you’ve got the right balance between your good and bad microbes, your digestive tract will work as it should.

But, when there are too many bad bacteria, that’s when your gut health can suffer. As a result, you could end up at a high risk for a lot of different digestive problems.

Now, your gut microbiome is the collection of bacteria and other microbes in your gastrointestinal tract. And your gut health is extremely important because it has a lot to do with how you feel every day. You see, if your microbiome is disrupted it can lead to problems like leaky gut or intestinal permeability. That’s where the walls of your intestines become weak and allow toxic bacteria and bad microbes to enter. When this happens, you’ll probably have to deal with a lot of problems in your digestive tract.

Seven Common Habits that Damage Your Gut

Not all habits are bad, of course. Showering and brushing your teeth every day are clearly great habits. But far too many of us fall into unhealthy routines that can harm our gut health.

1. Using Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

When you have a headache or some other type of body pain, it’s only natural to reach for an over-the-counter drug. It’s the easiest thing to do when you’ve got pain and want to stop it fast. But, the most common OTC drugs are ibuprofen and aspirin, known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While these can be very effective medicines, they can also do quite a number on your gut health.

Turns out, NSAIDs work by blocking the cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzyme. This enzyme is largely responsible for causing inflammation that can lead to pain.

However, COX also plays an important role in gut health. The stomach produces powerful, corrosive acid. And this acid can actually do a lot of damage your stomach. But COX helps protect your stomach from its own acid. So, when an NSAID inhibits COX, the enzyme can’t do its job. As a result, you’ll be at a higher risk of developing leaky gut. NSAIDs have also been linked to the development of ulcers.1

2. Using antibiotics –

Antibiotics are extremely effective medicines that have saved the lives of millions of people around the world. But unfortunately, they not only kill harmful bacteria and other microbes but beneficial microbes as well. This can have a major impact on your gut health.

So, if you take antibiotics you should also take steps to replenish the good bacteria in your system. One way to do this is to take a probiotic supplement. Your doctor can tell you more about how probiotics can help maintain your gut health during your antibiotic regimen.2

gut health | Probiotic America

3. Stress –

While you already know that stress isn’t good for you, you might not know the role it can play in damaging your gut health. Stress can weaken your immune system, which is responsible for helping to keep you protected from infections and other problems. But it can also disrupt what is known as the “gut-brain axis.”

Now, a lot of the same hormones that work in the brain also work in the intestines. In fact, scientists often refer to the gut as “the second brain.”3 This is a large reason why when something is wrong in the gut it can affect your entire body.

4. Drinking too much alcohol –

Overindulging in alcohol can be especially damaging to your gut. Drinking too much can lead to the accumulation of harmful bacteria and that can lead to a leaky gut.4

If you do drink, make sure you do so in moderation. In moderation, there’s evidence that drinking a moderate amount of red wine could actually help your gut health. In fact, one study shows that red wine can increase the supply of a beneficial form of bacteria known as bifidobacterium.5

5. Eating too many grains –

There’s evidence that even gluten-free grains contain substances that can make it very hard for you to obtain nutrients from the food you eat. The lectins found in these grains bind to your intestines and inhibit your body’s ability to absorb important nutrients.6

6. Eating too often throughout the day –

You might be damaging your gut health if you tend to snack a lot at different times over the course of your typical day. Eating when you’re not hungry can disrupt your gut bacteria. The reason is that you’re putting your digestive tract under a ton of stress. It has to work very hard to break down all the food you’re consuming.

But taking a break can be really good for you. Research indicates that intermittent fasting helps ease the workload of your digestive tract. It promotes a process known as autophagy. In a nutshell, autophagy helps cells detoxify themselves. It even helps remove unneeded proteins and clear out damaged cell components.7

7. Overdoing it with caffeine –

As much as you might love your coffee (or soda), when you take in too much caffeine it can wreak havoc on your gut. Overindulgence in caffeine stimulates stress hormones. These hormones contribute to a “fight or flight” response in your body. This diverts energy to the heart – increasing your heart rate – and taking it away from the gut. And this type of stress response – over time – can lead to an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in your gut.8

gut health | Probiotic America

Kicking Bad Habits that Wreck Your Gut

Now, eliminating a bad habit is no joke – it can be really tough. Issues such as alcohol abuse and overeating develop over years and years. As a result, it can take some time to break them.

You see, research indicates that bad habits are an odd way of “rewarding” yourself. They release a chemical in the brain known as dopamine. The more dopamine you get, the more you want. It’s a vicious cycle. In fact, studies show that in many cases you don’t even derive any pleasure from the habit itself. You get your pleasure from the dopamine instead.9

So how can you help yourself? Well, exercise is one way you can get rid of bad habits. Studies suggest that physical activity releases endorphins – chemicals in your brain that also bring pleasure.10 Exercise can also help suppress a hormone known as ghrelin, which plays a major role in making you hungry.11

Increasing Your Supply of Good Bacteria

In addition to working out regularly, you can also promote good gut health by consuming more good bacteria. Certain foods are good sources of beneficial bacteria. But it can be hard to get the amount you need through food alone.

That’s why a lot of people turn to probiotic supplements. These are products filled with beneficial bacteria. They come in a lot of different forms, but capsules are the most efficient. The reason is, they protect microbes from the harsh environment of the stomach. The good bacteria survive so they can reach the gut and do their jobs.

Wrapping it Up

If you work on eliminating the bad habits that can damage your gut health, it won’t be long until you’re reaping serious benefits. But since it can be tough to go it alone, be sure to talk to your doctor first.

More ways to add probiotics to your diet:

Cheese Can Improve Gut Health! (find out which types to eat)

Sources:
1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7991640
2.http://www.pnas.org/content/108/Supplement_1/4554.full.pdf#page=1&view=FitH
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28925886
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12828956
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22552027
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15302522
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990190/
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24153250
9.https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/01/breaking-bad-habits
10.https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201104/exercise-pleasure-and-the-brain
11.http://www.the-aps.org/mm/hp/Audiences/Public-Press/Archive/08/40.html

What is the Healthiest Bread to Eat? (recipe inside)

Few things in this world are as delicious and inviting as a warm, freshly-baked loaf of bread. You know the type: a baguette from your favorite bakery or a crusty round loaf filled with piping hot chili. Cue the hunger pangs! But with endless choices available, how do you know the best bread for you?

The Argument for Health

From the start, it is important to understand the right bread may provide several health benefits. For starters, bread can be a great source of natural whole grains. By definition, whole grains are unrefined and still contain everything in the original kernel, including bran, germ, and endosperm, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.1

So, what is a whole grain, then? According to the Whole Grain Council, whole grains “include grains like wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, and rye.2

Even popcorn is considered a whole grain!

With so many options, getting the daily recommended amount of whole grains is easy. Depending on your age, the recommended serving size of whole grains is different, but for adults, between 9 and 11 daily servings is great, and between 6 and 9 servings for children.3 To put this in perspective, one slice of whole grain bread equals one serving of whole grains.4

Remember the Food Pyramid? Well, it’s still being used today, and the health benefits provided by the “Grains” section (yes, still the base of the Pyramid!) are just as powerful today as you may remember from your school days. When you get your whole grains through items such as whole-wheat bread, you’re giving your body loads of fiber. Fiber is one of those super-nutrients that helps with everything from lowering your cholesterol to controlling blood sugar levels, and it aids in balancing a healthy weight.5

The Best & Healthiest Bread for You

healthiest bread

If you’re like most people, you don’t just like bread, you love bread. Sandwiches, breadsticks, as an appetizer, or with your soup, bread is the perfect companion for snacks and meals. But, all bread is not created equal, especially when it comes to your health. While white bread may be light and fluffy, it isn’t exactly packed with nutrients, so take a look at the great breads below and give one of them a shot.

Whole Grain Bread

Unless you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, whole grain bread is a great option when it comes to breads that many consider healthy. Don’t be fooled by other breads that look like whole grain bread. Just because a bread is brown doesn’t mean it packs the same nutrients and punch that whole grain bread does. Many breads are actually dyed brown using sugars or molasses to get that “healthy brown” look. That’s why it is always important to look at the ingredients list or ask your baker what is in the bread. Whole grain bread should list “whole grains” as one of the first three ingredients.

Rye Bread

Rye bread is bread that is made with flour produced from rye grain (as opposed to flour produced from wheat, for example). Commonly used as sandwich bread, and famously on Reuben sandwiches, rye bread has been linked to lower blood sugar levels.6

Another benefit of rye bread is that it contains resistant starch. This resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that functions like fiber, leaving you feeling fuller and more satisfied after eating than other breads.

Sourdough Bread

If a loaf of sourdough bread makes you dream of Paris nights and the Eiffel Tower, you’re in good company! Just because sourdough bread is white doesn’t put it in the same league as white bread. A quality sourdough bread is packed with qualities that, like rye bread, may help lower blood sugar in the body.7

Not only that, but sourdough uses active wild yeast strains, lactic acid, and bacterias when it is baked. These factors give sourdough its unique, tangy flavor, and the wild yeast actually makes sourdough bread a probiotic. Pair sourdough’s probiotic benefits with the crunchy-crusty outside and the chewy delicious inside, and you’ve got a recipe for one healthy bread!

Irish Soda Bread (aka Irish Brown Bread)

irish soda bread recipe

A classic staple on the breakfast table in Ireland, Irish Soda bread, also called brown bread, is ripe with nutrition and healthy qualities. The secret to Irish soda bread’s health appeal is its use of whole wheat flour and low-fat buttermilk. The buttermilk gives it density, which leaves you feeling full. And one serving of Irish soda bread contains only 70 calories and 0 grams of saturated fat.8

Another great benefit of Irish soda bread is that anyone can make it. If you follow this easy recipe, you’ll be munching on this healthy loaf in no time.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups low fat buttermilk

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 F and line or lightly grease a nonstick baking sheet.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Gently the whisk dry ingredients together.
  • Add in the buttermilk. With a rubber spatula, gently fold (don’t stir) the ingredients together until everything is just moistened.
  • Fold the dough onto your baking sheet and form it into a round loaf. Dust a bit of all-purpose flour on the top of the loaf (optional) and cut a large “X” about four inches across and ½ inch deep into the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the bread is firm and golden brown.

Slice and enjoy!

Happy Eating

Different breads all have their own time and place: Some are better for sandwiches, and others are begging to be toasted and topped with tomato and mozzarella. Whatever the reason, be sure to check the ingredients list before digging into that next loaf.

For more health news and tips, keep reading here:

Everything You Need to Know About Probiotics (a complete guide)


Sources
1. https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/WholeGrainResource.pdf
2. https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101
3. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2000/document/build.htm
4. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2000/document/build.htm
5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
6. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-8-42
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18317680
8. http://www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/recipes/2013-03-whole-wheat-irish-soda-bread.html

Think You Might Have a Parasite? Try These DIY At-Home Cleanses

You haven’t been feeling yourself lately. Your stomach hurts and you feel tired all the time. Could a microscopic enemy be at the cause?

Parasites are organisms that need another living organism to survive. Parasites often harm the other organism, or host. Did you know? More than 1,000 types of parasites can exist within or on human hosts.1

Though many people think of parasitic infestations as only happening in third world countries, they are common in all parts of the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control, parasites are responsible for five common diseases in the United States, including toxoplasmosis, Chagas disease, toxocariasis, neurocysticercosis, and trichomonas.2 These diseases affect millions of people each year, with devastating health effects.

Intestinal parasites, such as giardia and cryptosporidium, are also common. They can live for years in the human intestinal tract without any symptoms. When symptoms do appear, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause.

Symptoms of Parasites

Parasites can cause a wide variety of symptoms in their human hosts. Some of the most common symptoms include stomach problems, such as gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.3 Additional symptoms may include problems sleeping, aches and pains, allergies, and anxiety. Some types of parasites may cause an increase or decrease in appetite.

If you’re showing signs of a parasites, a cleanse can help your body get rid of these unwelcome visitors.

DIY Parasite Cleanse

Here are some foods that help your body cleanse itself from harmful parasites:

Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin parasite cleansePumpkin seeds are a simple and delicious method of ridding your body of parasites. A 2012 study done in China showed that eating pumpkin seeds can rid the body of tapeworms.4 Unlike the two main medicines used for treating tapeworms, pumpkin seeds are well-tolerated and readily available.

To use pumpkin seeds for a cleanse, eat about one cup per day. You can eat ½ cup in the morning and ½ cup at night. Pumpkin seeds are great in trail mix, on top of salads or even blended into smoothies.

Garlic

Garlic has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy. It can also effectively kill certain parasites. Several studies have proven garlic’s effects on giardia and many other types of parasites.5 Garlic is also anti-bacterial and antimicrobial.

For parasites, fresh, raw garlic is best. Crush some raw garlic into your salad dressing or mix it with butter on toast. If you don’t like the taste of garlic, you may prefer to take a supplement. Garlic can interact with some medications, such as blood thinners, antiplatelet medicines, and protease inhibitors.6 Consult your doctor about taking garlic if you are taking these medicines.

Probiotics

probiotic parasite cleanseYour body is not only a host to parasites, which can harm you, but also to beneficial bacteria and yeast that help your digestion and many other aspects of your health. These helpful microorganisms make up your gut microbiota. Probiotics are either the same or very similar to the helpful microorganisms that already exist in your gut microbiota.

The health benefits of taking probiotics for stomach problems and yeast infections are well-documented.7 There is also some evidence that probiotics can help fight a parasite infestation. A case study of a 12-year-old girl published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal showed that probiotics can treat the parasite cryptosporidium.8

Probiotics are available as supplements. They are also present in many healthy foods, such as plain yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut. Eating these foods regularly can help you live healthier and parasite-free.

Oregano Oil

oregano oil parasite cleanseOregano oil is essential oil made from the oregano herb. It is commonly available as a supplement. In a 2000 study, researchers gave oregano oil supplements to 14 people who had tested positive for three types of intestinal parasites. After six weeks, a majority of the patients no longer tested positive for the parasites, and most had improved stomach conditions.9

Taking 200 mg of oregano oil as a supplement three times daily for six weeks may help to kill parasites.10 You could also opt to take a few drops of oregano oil each day mixed with water or juice. If you have diabetes, a bleeding disorder, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your doctor before taking oregano.

Papaya Seeds

A 2007 study of 60 Nigerian children found that an elixir of dried papaya seeds and honey successfully got rid of a majority of the kids’ intestinal parasites.11 This method also did not lead to negative side effects. You can purchase dried papaya seeds from large grocery stores or online. You could also eat fresh papaya seeds alone or in a smoothie. Aim to consume about one tablespoon per day.

A Healthy Diet Wards Off Bugs

Make your body less attractive to parasites by eating a healthy diet. Cut out processed simple carbohydrates, such as refined sugar and white flour. Replacing these foods with healthier complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can make your body a less hospitable place for parasites12 Complex carbohydrates also contain dietary fiber, which is necessary for proper digestion.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience severe symptoms, contact your doctor right away. Your doctor can diagnose parasites by blood test, fecal test, endoscopy, colonoscopy, or x-ray.13

Parasites can infiltrate your body and negatively affect your overall health, so if you suspect you’ve been infected, take action as quickly as possible. Try these natural cleanses to clear these unwelcome invaders from your system.

For more tips on digestive health, keep reading:

Stretch Your Way to Digestive Health (3 easy yoga poses)


Sources
1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/220302.php
2. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/resources/pdf/npi_factsheet.pdf
3. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/220302.php
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22910218
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/
6. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb-interaction/possible-interactions-with-garlic
7. http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
8. http://pmj.bmj.com/content/80/940/112
9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10815019
10. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/644.html
11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17472487
12. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/intestinal-parasites
13. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/references_resources/diagnosis.html

How Mindful Meditation Helps Digestion (and may improve leaky gut)

Is there an association between meditating and the health of your gastrointestinal tract? Scientific research seems to say that’s the case. In fact, mindfulness, or the practice of being in the moment, can benefit your GI tract in many ways. Read on to find out more about how meditation can benefit your stomach and improve digestion.

What is Leaky Gut?

how to improve digestion

Your gut contains billions of bacteria, yeast, and other microbes. You might think bacteria are all bad, but there are actually many strains that are good for you. They help keep your gut working well, so you won’t have digestive problems. But there are also a lot of bad microbes as well. If the bad/good balance becomes disrupted, you’ll be most at risk for digestive issues, like leaky gut.

When the lining of the digestive tract weakens, harmful microbes can enter, or “leak,” into the body. This can lead to problems so severe that they interfere with your quality of life.

Evidence suggests that meditation can help reduce the chances of leaky gut occurring. As a result, it might also help lower the risk of gastrointestinal disorders.

What the Science Says

Regular meditation practice may play a role in reducing gut problems. In one study, researchers wanted to know if mindfulness meditation could help people with GI problems.

Fifty people with digestive issues participated in the study. They took part in programs that addressed many issues. Among them: cognitive skills, stress reduction, and other behaviors that provide health benefits. All the participants took part in weekly sessions involving meditation. They also practiced meditation at home for between 15 and 20 minutes each day.

According to the results, all the participants showed major improvement in their symptoms. They also reported an improved quality of life and a reduction in anxiety. But these results didn’t stop with the end of the study. Follow-up visits showed that the participants were still seeing benefits three weeks later.1

How Mindfulness Meditation Works

Mindfulness meditation isn’t some recent fad. In fact, people have practiced it for more than 2,000 years. The best way to describe it is a method of focusing the mind on the moment, instead of worrying about the future or past. There are different levels of mindfulness-based stress reduction. If you’re a beginner, you’ll spend about 20 minutes meditating during any one session. But advanced practitioners spend as long as an hour.2

Advocates of mindful meditation say it’s a way to help them deal with anything that happens to them. Whether something good or bad occurs, they’re ready to deal with it. It helps them lead fuller lives, because they’re actually experiencing life.

Popular Types of Meditation

 

Mantra meditation

meditation for stomach problems– This involves staying in a seated position with your legs crossed, usually on a mat. Practitioners will usually repeat some sort of phrase. The most common one is “Om.” But whatever the phrase may be, it helps clear the person’s mind. The mantra, often spoken at a low volume, helps make the person more in tune with their environment.

Transcendental meditation

– Millions of people, around the world, practice transcendental meditation. It’s basically a technique that promotes a state of relaxed awareness. To try it out, sit in a comfortable position and silently repeat a mantra (words) or sound. The typical practice is two times a day for 20 minutes each session.

Spiritual meditation

– This is the form of meditation most associated with praying. People do it to find a deeper connection with their God. Christians, Hindus, and people of many other faiths practice it. Some practitioners choose to enhance their experience by using oils. These include myrrh, cedar, and frankincense.

Movement meditation

– Most people think of yoga when they think of movement meditation. But it can work with most any type of gentle motion. You can practice movement meditation anywhere. Try it while walking around your neighborhood, or working in your garden.3

Why Meditate?

A lot of people meditate, and they do it for a lot of reasons. They’re all looking to find peace, but they also do it to help reduce stress or anxiety. Some use it to improve their focus, so they can be more productive. Still others use it to try and kick bad habits, such as drinking alcohol or smoking. Some meditate to get over a stressful or traumatic experience. Others are seeking an understanding of their life’s purpose.

Meditation Myths (hint: it’s not that hard)

One of the misconceptions about meditation is that there’s only one way to do it. You have to sit in a certain way or put your body in a specific position. The reality is, you need to find the position that you find the most comfortable. Whether that means sitting in your favorite chair or lying on your bed, it doesn’t matter.

There is another common misconception that you need to work to clear your mind. The opposite is actually true. You shouldn’t force yourself to empty your mind. Let whatever feelings, emotions, or thoughts that you have flow. Let them come and go without judging them.

The Bottom Line

Meditation practice is a great way to reduce anxiety. And scientific evidence shows that it can also help improve your digestive health. Try it yourself, and find out how meditation can benefit your gut. Don’t be afraid to start what could be a fruitful, mindful journey.


Sources
1. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-05/mgh-srh050515.php
2. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/07/mindfulness-meditation-empathy-compassion/398867/
3. https://www.gaia.com/article/which-type-meditation-style-best-for-you

Is There a Downside to Probiotics? (and which type is best)

Advertisements for probiotic supplements are all over the place. It seems that you can’t turn on your television or browse the Internet without seeing one. But there’s a good reason: Millions of people have taken these products, and for many different reasons.

Of course, some want to address a digestive issue. Others are looking for something that will help their overall health.

But whatever your reason, it’s important that you know as much as possible about how probiotics can actually help you before you make your purchase, including are there side effects of probiotics?

So, check out the info and tips below. These will help you discover the right types of probiotics for you and your family.

What is a Probiotic Supplement?

Let’s start with the word probiotic. Simply, it means to promote life.

And probiotics are actually alive. In fact, they’re the beneficial bacteria and other microbes in your “gut” or gastrointestinal tract.

Turns out, there are trillions of little microscopic organisms inside of you. And many of them are good for you, but some of them are quite harmful.

However, when there’s a good balance between good and bad microbes, your digestive system will typically work properly. But if the bad bacteria outnumber the good, it can lead to digestive problems.1

Now, a probiotic supplement is a product that’s designed to provide reinforcements to your supply of good bacteria.

Of course, you can find beneficial microbes in many kinds of foods. These are mainly fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread. But it can be extremely hard to ensure you have enough beneficial bacteria in your gut through diet alone.

That’s why lots of people turn to supplements.

The Benefits of Probiotics

What does science have to say about how probiotics can improve your health? Here are a few reported benefits, backed by solid scientific evidence.

· Respiratory issues – Research shows that probiotic use could help reduce the risk of certain kinds of respiratory concerns… including catching a cold.2 In fact, in one study children were divided into two groups: One group received milk enriched with probiotics and the other received regular milk.
According to the results, the children who drank the regular milk were 17 percent more likely to suffer an upper respiratory infection than the group who drank the probiotic enhanced milk.3

· Occasional Constipation – Probiotics can benefit bowel function as well. In one study, people suffering from constipation received two servings of yogurt with probiotic bacteria daily for several weeks. At the end of the study, the participants reported they not only had increased bowel movements but also a reduction in bloating.4

· Feminine problems– Good and bad bacteria not only fight for control of the gut, but also the female reproductive system. When some women take antibiotics or birth control pills, they often develop yeast and urinary tract infections. A probiotic supplement can inhibit some of the bad bacteria that can cause these problems.5

· Occasional Diarrhea – Antibiotics can really help nurse you back to health once in a great while, but they can also seriously deplete the number of good bacteria in your gut that results in loose stool. And this condition actually has a name: antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). The lactobacillus group of bacteria found in many types of probiotic supplements have been shown to help relieve many of the symptoms associated with AAD.6

side effects | Probiotic America

· Oral health – Finally, the health of your mouth can actually have a significant impact on your general health—just as there is good and bad bacteria in your gut, there’s also the same in your mouth. That’s why it’s important to support your mouth’s good bacteria with good oral care. The Lactobacillus reuteri bacterium has been shown to help strengthen oral health and reduce tooth decay.7

So, now that you know how probiotics can help you, you just need to…

Find the Right Probiotic Product

Now, you probably already know there are thousands of probiotic supplements on the market. It can be difficult to narrow down your choices and find the supplement that’s right for you.

That’s why it’s so important you carefully look at the labels of the products you’re considering. They provide key clues that can give you a good idea of whether or not you’re getting your money’s worth.

Furthermore, you’ll want to check on the number of good bacteria per serving.

This number will be measured in colony forming units, or CFUs. This is the amount of bacteria in a supplement that have the ability to divide and form colonies.

Now, here you’ll probably see a wide range of numbers. Some products offer 100s of millions of CFUs per serving, while others have CFUs in the trillions. Most products will provide anywhere from 15-30 billion.

The next thing you need to know when you’re looking at probiotic labels…

Bacterial Strains

Of course, it’s super important to know the strains of good bacteria in the probiotic products you’re considering. Here are just a few that should be in whatever you eventually purchase.

· Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum)

This is one of the first strains of bacteria that develop in the body. It’s really important when it comes to helping your gut stay healthy and it’s a great strain for helping you metabolize carbohydrates.9,10

· Lactobacillus acidophilus

L. acidophilus is a very important strain of good bacteria. It plays a vital role in inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Also, it helps ensure that there is the right balance between beneficial and harmful microbes in the gut.11

· Lactobacillus reuteri

This is another bacterial strain that inhibits the growth of harmful microbes. It’s called L. reuteri and it also helps strengthen your immune system.12

side effects | Probiotic America

Are Probiotic Supplements Safe?

In general, probiotic supplements are safe for the vast majority of people. In select cases, some people report minor issues like bloating or gas, but that’s about it.

But, no matter what your health may be like, talk to your doctor before taking any sort of probiotic product. They will have a good idea of how ingesting beneficial bacteria could affect your gut.

But your doctor will know something even more important – whether or not a probiotic will interact with any medications you might be taking. So, definitely check in with your healthcare professional.

And remember, when you take a probiotic, you’ll be adding billions of good bacteria to your digestive system. While this is a good thing, you’ll still be affecting the balance of microbes in your gut. It might take a few days for your system to adjust. It’s during this time that you might experience minor bloating and gas.14 But those effects usually subside quickly.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, taking a probiotic supplement can provide many different health benefits. And the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages for the majority of people.

However, you should still talk with your doctor first to make sure it will be safe for you to start a probiotic regimen.

Again, you want to pay close attention to what your body is telling you. If, for example, you’re experiencing side effects after three or four days, talk to your doctor to see if you might need to stop your probiotic regimen.

More ways to add probiotics to your diet:

Cheese Can Improve Gut Health! (find out which types to eat)

Sources
1 https://www.medicinenet.com/probiotics/article.htm
2 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006895.pub2/abstract
3 http://www.bmj.com/content/322/7298/1327
4 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2007.03362.x/full
5 http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
6 http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.904.1374&rep=rep1&type=pdf
7 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168160504001552
8 https://isappscience.org/probiotics
9 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10831430
10 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3145055/
11 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1988.tb09312.x/abstract
12 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3871281/
13 https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
14 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/07/probiotics_n_5563618.html