Probiotics – should you be taking one?

Probiotics are one hot topic are a hot topic as of late. As a dietitian, I get asked quite a few questions about probiotics – should I be taking one, which one should I take, do I need a probiotic? So, let’s take a moment, dive in, and see what all the fuss is about.

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What is a probiotic?

Probiotics are microorganisms that are said to have health benefits when consumed. They are healthy bacteria that live in your digestive system and assist your body with digesting food, enhance your immune systems function, and help produce certain vitamins.

Probiotics play a role in boosting the good bacteria in your gut and research has shown us that quite a bit of our immune system is in our gut. This means that having a healthy gut is essential to being a healthy human.

Should I take a probiotic?

I say yes. However, it’s up to you as to whether you want to get your probiotics from foods or in a supplement form. There are several foods that are great sources of probiotics – yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, and miso are just a few.

There are many varieties of probiotic supplements out there and there are many different strains of probiotic. The different strains have been shown to have different benefits. If you want to boost your immune health look for lactobacillus acidophilus or lactobacillus reuteri. If need constipation relief look for bacillus coagulans. If you need help with diarrhea, look for bifidiobacterim bifidum or lactobacillus rhamnosus. All probiotics support digestive health and there are many more than what I’ve included above.

What should my dose of probiotic be?

This will depend on your goal and when looking at dose you want to pay attention to how many CFUs are in your probiotic choice. CFU stands for colony forming units. If your goal is to maintain balance in your digestive system find a probiotic with one to two million CFUs. If you are looking to correct a problem, look for a probiotic containing 10 million CFUs – don’t take this forever, you eventually want to drop down to the maintenance dose of probiotics.

NOTE – This post is not medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All statements are my own thoughts and opinions. 

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