1. What are they?
Probiotics are bacteria that are taken in the form of food or supplements to help replenish and rebalance your natural ecosystem of microorganisms. Your microbiome (or the entire genetic material of all the microorganisms in or within your body) is responsible for many processes in your body, including hormone production, energy/nutrient extraction from food, managing appetite and body weight, and immune modulation. Certain stressors such as antibiotic use, standard American diet, and chronic stress can obliterate the delicate balance of bacteria/fungi/viruses and cause a myriad of symptoms (e.g. indigestion, skin disorders, fatigue). Taking probiotics regularly can help you defend against it.
2. Where do probiotics come from?
Probiotics are typically sourced from dairy, humans, or fruit.
Top food sources of probiotics: Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Miso, Kefir, Yogurt
3. Am I getting enough probiotics with my yogurt?
Not all yogurts are created equal, so the amount of live, active microorganisms you are getting may vary. Some yogurts may tell you which species and how many colony forming units (CFUs) it contains. Note that the CFU is based on how much was in the yogurt when it was made and may not reflect how much you are actually getting in the product.
4. How much should I be taking daily?
If you are not suffering from any conditions, the maintenance dose for good health is between 1-10 billion CFU.
5. Are all probiotics the same?
No, there are different strains have been shown to be beneficial for different conditions:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus)
- Functions: Readily colonizes on the walls of small intestine, supports nutrient absorption, aides in the digestion of dairy foods
- L. plantarum
- Functions: Controls immunity, decreases inflammation, and maintains gut integrity. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of food allergies.
- Bifidobacterium longum (B.longum)
- Functions: Maintains the integrity of the gut wall, scavenges toxins
- B. bifidum
- unctions: Breaks down complex carbohydrates, fats, and proteins so that the body can utilize them for energy.
- L. rhamnosus
- Functions: Useful in preventing traveller's diarrhea