Probiotics have never been more popular, and it’s never been easier to add these beneficial bacteria to your daily health routine.
You’re never alone. In fact – your closest friends are closer than you think!
The human body is home to trillions of bacterial cells that make up a personal microbiome – inside and outside our bodies! Known to many as probiotics, our body houses billions of these beneficial bacterial cells (outnumbering our human cells 10 to 1!) that play a vital role in many bodily functions.
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Probiotics have been around for some time, as a part of traditional diets in our natural environment for thousands of years – and most of us are familiar with them in supplements and yogurts. But take a closer look and you’ll see that probiotic products are rapidly evolving as science gains more insight into their wide range of benefits. Probiotics are hotter than ever, and companies are producing a variety of innovative products to help you up your friendly bacteria counts.
Tiny Bacteria – Big Benefits
We’re each born with our own unique microbiome, including the bacteria in our gut, and throughout life, we shape its population through diet and environmental exposure. But stress, cesarean births, alcohol consumption, harsh personal care products and household cleaners, antibiotics, exposure to pollution, and overly processed diets that lack variety can all diminish the beneficial bacteria in and on our bodies. Many of these factors are hard to avoid but the good news is, probiotics have been shown to be helpful in many areas of human health:
Probiotics’ main claim to fame – and how many of us are familiar with them – are their effects on our digestion. Probiotics help us digest and absorb nutrients from our food. They have been found to be helpful for gas, bloating, both constipation and diarrhea, and research is even uncovering their potential role in helping to treat greater digestive issues such as colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
Certain strains of probiotics have been shown to help with the management of healthy cholesterol levels, by lowering “bad” (low-density lipoproteins – LDL) cholesterol and have also been found to help support some factors related to heart health.
Probiotics have been found to help with healthy intestinal permeability and support the gut lining, helping to reduce inflammation in the gut. Use of probiotics in some studies have also shown promising results in helping to reduce the number and/or severity of symptoms associated with the common cold.
“Gut feelings”, indeed. Scientists have identified pathways between our central nervous system, termed the “gut-brain axis”. The gut has also been found to produce many of the same neurotransmitters that the brain produces! While the research is very preliminary, some studies found supplementing with certain strains of probiotics led to an improvement in dealing with stress.
It’s an exciting time for probiotics as we learn more about the human microbiome, and how probiotics can influence its health and ours. With the broad range of established and potential probiotic benefits – this trend is only going to get bigger!
There are many convenient ways to get more beneficial bacteria, including beverages, natural health products, supplements, traditional and modern convenience foods.
Probiotics have come a long way from simple capsules. Companies are innovating with multi-strain, high-count formulas, some customized to suit certain ages, genders, lifestyles and health conditions. Once confined to the fridge, shelf-stable formulas can easily be found, as well as liquid and chewable formats.
Probiotic Enhanced Foods and Products
From premade smoothies to baking mixes, food manufacturers are jumping on the probiotic bandwagon. You can find probiotics in granola bars, chocolate, juices, snack foods and even teas. Probiotics are also making their way into personal care products where they can be found in cleansers, serums and creams that are quickly gaining popularity for their support of our skin’s unique bacterial health.
Probiotics are abundant in traditionally fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, tempeh, kimchi, kefir and kombucha. Fermented foods are very popular, and can be made at home, or purchased. While their unique flavours are loved by many, their tangy taste isn’t for everyone, but with the selection of products available today, there’s a ferment for everyone. Many can also be added to smoothies or served alongside meals as a condiment to help digestion and bolster your gut bacteria.
Visit your local CHFA Member health food store for a wide selection of the latest probiotic-rich products to keep your bacterial allies abundant, happy and healthy.
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