Are probiotics anything more than a waste of money on a health hype? Probiotics have become a multibillion-dollar industry. With such quick velocity, it makes you wonder if they’re truly worth the hype or if this is just another quick health trend. To determine whether probiotics are necessary, we need to define probiotics and what they’re supposed to do. Before we define probiotics, it might be helpful to back up a few steps and define the role of your gut – where probiotics are said to fulfill their work.

What is your gut?

Our gastrointestinal system (GI tract for short) includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, and colon.

Our guts keep our bodies in working order. As food, medicine, and other substances pass through, our guts extract energy, vitamins, minerals, and other crucial substances that will be transported to the rest of the body. Whatever our body consumes in our mouths, on our skin, in our hair – it goes to our guts.

Think of it this way; It’s the post office, employing hundreds of helpers to deliver the cargo to the areas of the body that need it most. Whatever our bodies can’t or won’t use gets tossed into the incinerator – the toilet. Ultimately, what our gut decides to send out for delivery contributes to its efforts to provide energy, balance hormones, maintain cognitive clarity and health, and attack toxins that made it past frontline fighters.

What are probiotics?

We have over 9,000,000,000,000 – yes, that’s nine TRILLION – good bacteria all over our bodies. Of those 9,000,000,000,000, we carry about 7,000 to 9,000 strains of over 1,000 species. They work around the clock non-stop to keep you safe by:

Strengthening the walls of our immune systems
Joining the fight against invasive organisms
Neutralizing toxins
Breaking down food
Providing vital nutrients our own cells can’t make on their own

At the bottom of our large intestines is where our good and bad bacteria battle each other, and farts are made. It’s called the microbiome. The healthier this place is, the better. Probiotics are the good bacteria in your microbiome.

Poor health in this area has been linked to more serious issues like:

  • Diabetes
  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Anxiety
  • Heart Disease/Attacks

What is the importance of diverse probiotic strains?

Not always, but generally speaking, allergies are formed when the body is exposed to one particular thing way too much. In short, too much of a good thing can be bad. So, although probiotics are good bacteria, too much of one type becomes harmful. They start to overrun themselves and there aren’t enough other types of strains to fight diverse bad bacteria.

Without enough diverse strains, equipped with their own unique formulas and structures, the bad bacteria will not only take over your gut, it can also make your good bacteria turn on itself – also known as autoimmune disease.

What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?

While probiotics are the good bacteria for your microbiome, prebiotics is what makes them stronger. The number one thing you’re looking for is fiber.

Foods high in prebiotics include:

  • Bananas
  • Prunes
  • Dandelion greens
  • Oats
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Chicory root
  • Onions

Foods high in probiotics include:

  • Colorful produce
  • Fermented foods
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickled foods
  • Soft cheeses
  • Pickled foods
  • Soft cheeses
  • Fermented Soy – tempeh, miso, doenjang (be very careful with the sourcing. Normal soy in America tends to be GMO)
  • Apple cider vinegar (with the mother in the bottle)

So, now that we’ve dished on the pre, the pro and the microbiome, it’s your turn to decide what’s going to be the most beneficial for your body. Before diving into any major diet changes, be sure to chat with your doctor.