Probiotics are no new thing. For years now, Jamie Lee Curtis and Activia have been telling us about the import role these lovely little microorganisms have of keeping us "regular." But believe it or not, having healthy bacteria in your tummy affects a lot more than just your trips to the bathroom. Recent studies suggest that good flora can help prevent a myriad of ailments including chronic yeast infections, poor absorption of nutrients, insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, and even depression.
So why are probiotics a hot topic now more than ever? The main reason is the prevalent use of antibiotics to treat illness. Think about it: how many times have you been prescribed a z-pak "just in case," by your doctor? Probably a few. The thing about antibiotics is while they do a wonderful job of killing any harmful bacteria, they also kill all the good little guys in your intestines. So you have to work on replacing them immediately to keep yourself healthy. Other lesser factors, like a diet high in sugar and processed foods, can prevent healthy bacteria from thriving, so it's important to eat very healthfully as you're trying to up your probiotics.
Do you think you're probiotic-deficient? If you regularly experience gas/bloating, bathroom problems, lethargy, intense cravings for sugar, and poor immunity, you may have poor belly bacteria. Here are a few wonderful sources of healthy bacteria to get you back on track.
- Probiotic Supplements: Supplements like the one pictured above are an easy way to get more flora. Like all living organisms, probiotics do have a limited lifespan, so try to look for refrigerated supplements to make sure you're getting live creatures. These pills can be found in health food stores and even Whole Foods.
- Yogurt and other fermented dairy: Fermented dairy products like yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk are full of good bacteria. Make sure you buy versions that have "live active cultures," and try to keep away from super sugary versions, which can cancel out the benefits of the bacteria. Try plain greek yogurt, which is richer and less sour than other types.
- Fermentations: Kimchi is one of my absolute favorite things. I love it on everything from veggies and rice to a sandwich. Lucky for me, it's packed with probiotics. Other great ferment-y sources include sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh.