Why should we care about probiotics? After all, the first time I remember hearing about probiotics was on a commercial about yogurts with added probiotics and I thought “Another gimmick to sell products”.
Of course I knew very little about the meaning of the word probiotics, but I did know that yogurts had cultured or fermented milk in them and were good for you. I’ve come to realize they naturally contain some species of probiotics and what manufacturers were now doing was adding other species of live bacteria to enhance the yogurts’ probiotic content.
Fast forward to now and a lot has been discovered about the value of probiotics. Probiotics are the human microbiome. If you look up the definition of biome it is: “a large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat, e.g. forest or tundra.” Microbiome is the biome that is living in our body. Instead of types of trees in a forest our microbiome is made up of types of bacteria. There are at least 5,000 known diverse species of bacteria.
Yes! They are in us. What’s more fascinating to me is that it is estimated there are more than 100 trillion bacterial cells in a human body. That’s about ten times more than the number of human cells in a human body. So really on a cell count basis we are 90% bacteria! However, they don’t weigh much; those 100 trillion cells weigh around three pounds which is also the weight of the average brain.
Here’s what has been a recent learning for me. Nearly 80% of our immune system is found in our digestive tract and everything depends on the health of our gut and the amount of beneficial bacteria that live there. That means from how well we digest food, how many nutrients we absorb, and our ability to keep bad microbes in check is all depending on our microbiome.
Scientists are now calling our microbiome a newly discovered organ in the human body. Although this news surfaced on March 27, 2018 it is a pretty new finding but truly outlines the importance of our microbiome.
What are some of the symptoms of an unhealthy gut?
- Stomach issues like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. This may include food intolerances which are the result of difficulty digesting certain foods.
- Weight gain and obesity can be related to an unhealthy gut. This can occur when certain bacteria that affect how different foods are digested and produce chemicals that help make you feel full are missing in an unhealthy gut.
- An unhealthy gut may contribute to sleep disturbances such as insomnia or poor sleep, and lead to chronic fatigue. This is because the majority of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. So an unhealthy gut can impair your ability to produce it well.
- Skin conditions like eczema and acne may be related to a damaged gut. Inflammation in the gut caused by a poor diet or food allergies may cause increased “leaking” of certain proteins out into the body, which can in turn irritate the skin and cause these conditions.
- It is thought that an unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and alter the proper functioning of the immune system. This can lead to autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks itself rather than harmful invaders.
- There is some evidence that food allergies may also be related to gut health.
Clearly we should seriously consider probiotics in our health regimen. Do your research and choose wisely. I have done mine and I am very satisfied with my newly found probiotics product. It meets all these criteria: (Click here for more information)
- All natural ingredients
- Diverse number of strains including different product for vegetarian vs. conventional diets
- Strength in CFUs (Colony forming units, a measure of the amount of probiotics)
- Delayed release capsules to protect probiotics from stomach acid (They can reach the gut undamaged)
- Shelf stability (Storage, handling, shipping)
- Third party testing to ensure the product delivers the probiotics as stated