You’ve probably heard about probiotics in terms of nutrition, but there are some misconceptions about what they are, where they’re found, and how to supplement your diet with them. So let’s start with the basics and address some of the most common questions about probiotics and natural food sources they’re found in.
What are Probiotics?
Simply put, probiotics are live and beneficial bacteria and yeasts that are especially important to the human digestive system. Some probiotics exist naturally in your gut, while other types are found in whole foods and dietary supplements.
Additional probiotics can assist your body by decreasing the amount of harmful bacteria that causes infections and inflammation, replacing beneficial bacteria that has been eliminated from antibiotic medications, and restoring the body’s natural bacteria balance. At least 500 million bacteria exist in your intestines at any given time, so that balance can easily be thrown off by a variety of factors.
Probiotics for Medical Conditions
One of the most commonly prescribed remedies for digestive problems is a probiotic regimen. However, probiotics can also aid treatment for other persistent health issues. Medical researchers continue to investigate the wide range of effects that probiotics have on the human body. These are some of the medical conditions that providers frequently prescribe probiotics for:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Crohn’s disease
- Chronic stomach inflammation
- Acid reflux
- Urinary tract infections
- Vaginal yeast infections
- Colds and allergies
- Eczema and other skin conditions
Not only are probiotics used to treat specific conditions, but they’re also useful for maintaining overall wellness and encouraging nutrient absorption. Research has shown that when you have more beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, your immune system functions better too. Having probiotics in the body also helps it absorb and utilize important vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, chromium, and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Natural Probiotic Foods
Fortunately, there are many delicious natural foods that contain probiotics to aid digestion and keep the gut functioning well.
These are some probiotic-rich foods to incorporate into your regular meals:
- Goat’s milk and sheep’s milk cheeses
- Miso soup
However, if you are unable to get adequate probiotics from food alone, there are capsules, tablets, and powders that you can take as health supplements. Acidophilus is one of the most readily-found probiotic supplements that you can buy at health food stores.
Probiotics and Olive Leaf Extract
Some probiotic supplement producers have discouraged the use of olive leaf extract while taking probiotics. However, olive leaf extract does not affect microbes that have been a part of our food supply for thousands of years. We believe that it is fine to use both products at the same time unless the probiotic contains some strain that has not be a part of our regular diets.
Risks of Probiotics
As with many supplements, probiotic supplements affect different people in different ways. They have been known to cause allergic reactions and cause minor stomach discomfort in a few people. But since most probiotics already exist naturally in our bodies, the risks are minimal. Always purchase dietary supplements from trusted and transparent companies, and talk to your doctor before starting any type of probiotic routine.