What are Probiotics and How can I Get Them?
DISCLAIMER: This post was developed in partnership with Jamieson Canada, however all opinions are my own.
A registered dietitian’s discussion on the benefits of probiotics on total gut health and other health outcomes. We discuss where you can find probiotics and who may benefit from a probiotic supplement.
‘Gut heath’ is a huge buzzword right now and many of you out there are probably wondering what you can do to promote a healthy gut. You’ve probably heard about them before, but what are probiotics? In what foods can you find them? Is it possible to get enough probiotics through diet alone? Should you be taking a supplement? In this blog post I’ll be addressing all of these questions, so read on!
What are probiotics?
Before we get into detail, we have to get clear on what exactly we’re talking about. In the large intestine – also known as the gut – there exists something called the microbiome or gut microbiome. The gut microbiome contains the largest number and variation of live microorganisms or bacteria in the body, and a proportion of that bacteria is “good” or beneficial bacteria, which are probiotics.
You can consume beneficial bacteria or probiotics through certain foods and supplements, but we’ll touch on that in a little bit.
Why are probiotics important? What are the benefits?
There are a range of benefits that probiotics offer to our bodies. The good bacteria in the gut assists in the digestion process of food. More particularly, they help break down the fibre in food as our stomach and small intestine (where most of the digestive process occurs) are unable to break it down. By digesting fibre, good gut bacteria play a role in the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are also associated with gut health and reduced risk of certain diseases like colorectal cancer.
The research on probiotics is consistently evolving, but they have also been seen to improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis which one type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and lessen the gastrointestinal side-effects of taking antibiotics, like diarrhea. Additionally, since our intestinal tract plays a role in the immune system, probiotics may also help regulate immunity.
Now, we’ve mentioned that probiotics are the “good” or beneficial bacteria. That means there must also be not-so-beneficial bacteria, right? Right. Just like we have good bacteria populating the gut microbiome, there also exists bacteria that may be more harmful to our health if they exist in large enough amounts. Probiotics provide defence against harmful bacteria, and this is why it’s important to have larger populations of them in the gut over bad bacteria.
So how can you make sure the good bacteria out-populate the bad? Consume more probiotics!
How Can I Consume More Probiotics?
First off, through food! As a dietitian and nutrition expert, I almost always recommend a food-first approach. Probiotics are mostly added to dairy foods like yogurt, cheese and milk-based beverages. Other fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha that contain live bacterial cultures may also provide the benefits of probiotics. You can also consume probiotics via supplementation, for example in capsule form. We’ll chat about this in a minute.
While it’s important to consume probiotics, prebiotic foods are important too. Prebiotics are what promote the growth and maintenance of good gut bacteria. So we need to be consuming both. We won’t go into detail (I’ll save that for another post) but you can get prebiotics by consuming ample amounts of fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
What About Probiotic Supplements?
As mentioned, as a dietitian I usually take a food-first approach. I recommend people enjoy a variety of foods that have live active bacteria like the ones mentioned in this post. That being said, sometimes it is challenging to get everything you ned through food. If you don’t feel you eat enough probiotic-rich foods in your diet and are looking for reassurance that you’re getting the benefits, a supplement may help.
Jamieson Vitamins Probiotic 10 Billion supports the maintenance of digestive health. It contains 14 unique probiotic strains at up to 10 billion active cells or colony forming units (CFUs) each. They use Advanced Tube Technology to protect from moisture and guarantee potency and freshness, so you know you will receive the active cells in each vegetarian capsule.
The Jamieson Probiotic 10 Billion has also been certified through TRU-ID®. When you see the TRU-ID® logo on Jamieson products, you can be assured that the active ingredients have been tested for purity by a third party at the University of Guelph. The DNA testing traces and verifies the probiotic strains right back to their specific living origins, certifying their authenticity. This means you can trust that what’s on the label is what is in the bottle.
Things to Keep in Mind:
Choosing nutrition supplements can be really confusing. There are certain probiotic strains that may be more beneficial for certain conditions, and this is why it’s important to seek advice from a registered dietitian for guidance.
Also, gut health (and health in general) is not just about nutrition and probiotics. There are additional lifestyle factors like stress management, exercise, and alcohol consumption that may play a role. Please keep this in mind and remember that supplements cannot make up for poor diet and lifestyle habits.
Now tell me, do you take a probiotic supplement? What is your favourite probiotic-containing food or beverage? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This post was developed in paid partnership with Jamieson Canada, however all opinions are my own.