Your body is amazing. But are you giving the bacteria within it the credit they deserve? What are probiotics, how do they work, and what are their benefits? Read and find out!
Millions of microbes call your digestive system home, and your system simply can’t function well without them. Known as probiotics, these bacteria impact everything from the health of your digestive system to improving nutrient extraction from your food. Without them, you’d quickly run into problems.
But what are probiotics, how do they work, and are they really worth taking? Lots of people are confused by these questions, so let’s dive into the answers.
Benefits of Taking Probiotics:
- Boosts good bacteria
- Enhances mood
- Food digestion and assimilation
- Strengthens immune system
- Colon protection
- Lowers levels of stress hormone cortisol
What are Probiotics?
According to the official definition from the World Health Organization, probiotics are “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” In other words, they are bacteria that provide a significant health benefit to your body when you consume them. Over 1,000 different types of these microbes thrive in your digestive tract, and maintaining a good variety spells benefits for your health.
The term probiotic comes from Greek roots that mean “for life,” and that’s an accurate description for them. Adequate levels in your digestive system will increase the overall health of your gut microbiome by boosting the amounts of good bacteria within it to improve your immune system and help your system fight off disease.
The Benefits of Probiotics
Just like any ecosystem, your digestive system thrives best when it contains a wide variety of microorganisms that can complement and interact with each other. Specific types of digestive bacteria work to regulate your immune and inflammatory responses, while others aid digestion and nutrient absorption by breaking down your food. Some even function as mood regulators or produce vitamins.
One key attribute of probiotics is that they protect your colon. Healthy bacteria within it both improves mineral absorption and aids in hormone production while reducing your risk of developing colon diseases like leaky gut syndrome or irritable bowel syndrome.
Well-balanced probiotic levels also have impacts well beyond your digestive system. Some research links robust probiotic levels to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to better mental health and less depression and anxiety.
The Perils of Modern Diets for Digestion
If all you need for good gut health is beneficial bacteria, why are digestive problems so common today? Your diet is almost certainly to blame.
Problems occur with your gut when you eat a diet filled with starches, simple carbohydrates, dairy, or too much sugar. This diet creates a breeding ground within your stomach for unwanted bacteria to get established, and it also increases your risk of developing inflammation, autoimmune disorders, and chronic diseases.
Beyond a bad diet, living a high-stress lifestyle, spending too much time sitting indoors, and taking copious amounts of antibiotics all contribute to the demise of your digestive bacteria. Disruptions in this microflora can lead to yeast overgrowths, gastrointestinal discomfort, and even seemingly unrelated symptoms like brain fog, insomnia, and inexplicable fatigue.
Need more proof that modern living is messing with your gut? A Science Advances study found that the highest beneficial gut bacteria levels on record are in a hunter-gather tribe in Africa that doesn’t interact with the industrialized world. U.S. citizens, in contrast, have some of the lowest recorded levels.
Clearly, a lifestyle of convenience is anything but convenient for your stomach. But here’s the good news. You can boost your bacterial counts back to optimal levels with a probiotic supplement.
What are Probiotic Supplements?
Probiotic supplements are an encapsulated form of the beneficial microbes that aid your digestive system. Their prevalence and popularity continue to increase. Today probiotics are currently the third most requested dietary supplement, and foods like yogurt and breakfast cereal are regularly infused with probiotic strains as well.
When is the best time to take probiotic supplements? The sooner the better in most cases! However, these pills are especially helpful after you complete a round of antibiotics. That’s because an intensive antibiotic regime kills off all the bacteria in your belly (good and bad alike), which leaves a vacuum for new strains to establish themselves. With probiotics, you give the beneficial microbes a big head start to outcompete the rest.
Which Probiotic Strands are Best?
Deciding on the right probiotic supplement is no easy feat. Dozens of brands are selling hundreds of different supplements, so determining which ones have the most significant benefit isn’t clear. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself during the selection process.
How much bacterial diversity? When it comes to probiotics, variety is best. Different bacteria strains colonize specific aspects of your digestive system, and it’s not always clear what types you’re low on before you take a supplement. You’ll get the best coverage by looking for probiotics that contain some of the following strains:
- Saccharomyces boulardii: This yeast-based probiotic strain is clinically proven to provide anti-toxin effects to the large and small intestine, and it works to reduce inflammation.
- Bacillus clausii: Clinically proven to act as an antimicrobial, this probiotic offers significant benefits to the digestive system.
- Bacillus coagulans: Naturally heat resistant, this probiotic improves nutrient absorption, reduces inflammation, and improves the symptoms of arthritis.
- Bacillus subtilis (DE111®): This probiotic supports healthy gut functions, promotes digestive health, and leaves you with a healthy GI tract.
What’s the bacterial density? The number of individual strains of bacteria within a probiotic is known as its CFU, or Colony Forming Units. The concentration you need depends on what your system has most recently been through. For instance, you’ll want to take a probiotic with between 100–500 billion CFUs if you’ve recently undergone an antibiotic regime, but between 10–15 billion CFU is perfect for daily maintenance.
Where do they come from?
Probiotics can come from a variety of sources, including dairy-based (lactobacilli) and bifidobacterial. However, these bacteria tend to be dissolved by harsh stomach acids, meaning that few strains make it through to the small intestine. In contrast, SBO (soil-based probiotics) can seed themselves in the digestive tract, promoting a more balanced microbiome in the process.
Are they shelf stable?
Most probiotics are sold refrigerated, and for a good reason. These bottles contain living organisms that are vulnerable to temperature fluctuations. You’ll often see an expiration date and a CFU count on a bottle of probiotics, and that’s the estimated amount of live bacteria you can expect within the supplements by the expiration date. Unless you want your probiotic’s microbe levels to die off if you leave it outside the fridge too long, it’s smart to look for a shelf-stable formula instead.
What’s the Delivery System?
The number of CFU doesn’t make much difference if the bacteria break down before they hit your digestive system. Pay attention to how the supplements are formulated to see how effective they will be. As previously noted, soil-based organisms last longer in your body than dairy-based because they don’t break down in stomach acid. You can also look for probiotics wrapped in vegetable glycerin casings, as these protect the fragile microbes from stomach acid until the supplement makes it to your intestines.
About Sunwarrior Probiotics
If you want to ensure that you’re sourcing the best possible probiotic for your health, consider taking Sunwarrior probiotics. Our unique, yet powerful supplement is great for your health; it’s soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, and 100% vegan. The shelf-stable formulation is based around the remarkable properties of soil-based organisms, and each serving will provide you with 10 billion CFU that transform into 100 billion CFU within your digestive system.
Best of all, you won’t have to worry about the strength of your stomach acid, as each serving is encapsulated in a vegetable capsule that protects the microbes until your system can receive them.
Final Tips for Taking Probiotics
Maintaining a healthy digestive system isn’t hard with the right probiotic plan. Make sure to follow these final tips to ensure your body gets the maximum benefit from your supplements.
Wait to take probiotics until you’re done with any antibiotic regime so that you don’t kill them before they get a chance to help you.
Always take probiotics on an empty stomach, and split large doses between the morning and evening.
Gassiness and bloating are normal for the first few days of taking probiotics, so plan accordingly.
If you’re looking for a versatile supplement that can aid digestion, improve your immunity, cholesterol levels, and repopulate your gut, then Sunwarrior probiotics is what you need. Your digestive system will thank you.