Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the probiotics being tossed about health and wellness circles. But what are they exactly? And should you be getting amongst them?
What actually is a probiotic?
In a nutshell, probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts (biotic) which are beneficial to our health (pro).
While you might associate bacteria and yeasts with nasty bugs that make you sick, we’re actually COVERED inside and out with good bacteria, that beaver away and help our bodies do their thing. Collectively, they're referred to as our microbiome.
Probiotics are generally discussed in relation to the guys that live in our guts, and we’re only just learning how much of a part they play in our physical (and mental!) health. Scientists reckon our microbiome works to support immune function, reduce inflammation, help you get nutrients and vitamins from food, break down medication and keep bad bacteria from getting out of control and making you sick.
Probiotics occur naturally!
The good news is that good bacteria is just a natural part of your body! Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fibre (basically food for probiotics!) will help to keep the good guys at optimum levels.
You can also find extra probiotics in fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso and kombucha.
These days, probiotic supplements are getting more and more airtime, touted to support general health and even effectively treat certain conditions.
There’s almost constant research around whether probiotic supplements are effective, and while many studies have yielded positive results, most scientists reckon more research is needed to really understand their impact.
That said, they’re pretty confident they’re not doing anything harmful, so if you try a probiotic supplement and feel it works for you, well, why not? As always, we recommend chatting to your doctor before starting any regular supplement to make sure it’s right for you and it won’t interfere with anything else you take.