I remember going into my first Naturopathic Doctor appointment excited, nervous, and very much open to what she had to say so that I could once and for all put this bloating, acid reflux, and other digestive issues to rest.
It had been 4 years since I truly knew that something was up with me; multiple trips to the emergency room will do that to you. However, after some conversations with my family, I came to realize that digestive issues were not something that just popped up, but something that lingered for years.
I was first introduced to probiotics during a school lecture that talked about gut health—it stated that we should eat yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods. Okay, sure, this will be easy to love, who doesn't like a delicious coconut yogurt topped with strawberries, mango, and a drizzle of honey, but what the heck is kefir? After researching, I learned that kefir was a fermented drink made out of yeast and bacteria. Interesting.
Why should we be eating bacteria that seems like the opposite of what we should be ingesting?
Well, I learned that we have good bacteria and bad bacteria. Our gut thrives on the good bacteria. However, we all have a few bad bacteria due to toxins that are in the air, the food we eat, and what we put on our skin. While bacteria has gotten a bad rap, research shows that 99% of bacteria are found in healthy adults. It helps to heal tissue on our skin and break down food in our mouths, as well as balance our vaginal pH and get rid of unwanted yeast.
The problems arise when we have too much bacteria. So how do you know if you have too much bacteria? Usually, if you have headaches, acne, bloating, digestive upset, acid reflux, eczema, psoriasis, fatigue, or yeast overgrowth, to name a few, you could be suffering due to an excess of bad bacteria.
This is where probiotics come in. We have microorganisms living in and on our body, about 38 trillion bugs to be exact. Probiotics are live organisms that, when given in the appropriate dose, have an impact on the human body. If you suffer from bloating, acid reflux, or acne, taking the right probiotic would be beneficial.
So remember when I said that the first time I learned about probiotics was in school and they told us about all the different foods that are probiotics? I came to find out that there was very little to no research to show that these foods have the same effect as a probiotic. But these foods do help us diversify our gut microbiome, which is important because the more diverse our gut microbiome is, the better our immune system works to keep us healthy.
Do you really need a probiotic? Spoiler alert, the answer is yes!
Don’t be fooled, though, because probiotics help with more than just digestive issues. They also regulate metabolism, synthesize vitamins, reduce inflammation, and improve immunity as well. It’s important to talk to someone before picking up just any probiotic; you want to make sure that your probiotic has the bacteria that is right for you. Speaking to a functional doctor, naturopath, or nutritionist is a great place to start!
If you are looking to learn more about improving your overall digestive health, read: Happy Gut, The Cleansing Program to Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy & Eliminate Pain by Vincent Pedre
To understand gut health, read: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders
Want to make your own probiotic yogurt? Try this recipe for a probiotic cashew yogurt.
Find out more about yeast overgrowth, also known as candida.