What if I told you there was something that could drastically improve your overall health? What if I told you it was something you could easily get from food? What if I told you it could help with everything from bloating to mental well being? What if I told you it was… bacteria???
Yes, bacteria! But not the nasty, germy things that make you sick. Good bacteria.
Good bacteria are microscopic powerhouses of human health and there are TRILLIONS of them inside you. Right. Now.
In fact, you have more bacterial cells in your body than you do human cells. Crazy, right? But also, amazing.
what makes bacteria good?
Scientists are constantly discovering new and awesome things the good bacteria in our bodies do, like:
Boost your immune system
Make vitamins (yes, they make vitamins!)
Improve absorption of nutrients
Inhibit the growth of bad bacteria
Keep you from feeling bloated
Improve your mental well being!!!
Ok, read that last one again because it is pretty amazing.
A healthy gut flora (that’s a fancy term for the giant bacteria garden in your gut) can improve your mental well being!!
Scientists have recently discovered that the bacteria in our gut actually communicate, in some way, with our brains. And as you can imagine, good bacteria are sending much better messages than the bad ones.
what does this have to do with probiotics?
Probiotics are good bacteria you can consume. They are the bacteria found in certain foods and supplements that you can add to your diet to help your beautiful bacteria garden flourish.
Probiotics have been at the heart of a lot of research in recent years, and they’ve been found to be pretty powerful little bacteria!
In fact, a recent study found that after just 1 month of consuming probiotics, people experienced a significant decrease in symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger and hostility.
If that doesn’t get you onboard the probiotic train, I don’t know what will.
so what should you do?
Your diet plays a dominant role in the types of bacteria in your gut. So consuming probiotics and prebiotics is a super effective and easy thing to do.
Whoa, whoa, whoa… what’s a PREbiotic???
Ok, so probiotics are the good bacteria. It’s the stuff they put in that yogurt and that kombucha stuff that some guy with a man bun has probably told you is like, sooo good.
Probiotics help keep your gut (and therefore, YOU) healthy.
Prebiotics are the food that help promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. They help the probiotics thrive!
How? Prebiotics help feed the good bacteria in your gut and help them produce something called butyrate. Butyrate tells your immune system that all is well. If bad bacteria start to take over, your good bacteria can’t produce as much butyrate. That signals your immune system that bad guys are around and it needs to get to work.
Once the bad bacteria are taken care of, the good bacteria can start producing butyrate again and your immune system goes back to sleep. Or endlessly scrolling Instagram. Whatever it does with its down time.
If you don’t get enough prebiotics, you can’t help your good bacteria grow and your body can’t produce enough butyrate to keep your immune system at rest. You end up at risk of your immune system… freaking out. It thinks there are bad guys because there isn’t enough butyrate, so it kinda goes on a rampage, attacking whatever it finds. Including good stuff! This can lead to things like inflammation. Not good.
Think of your gut like a little neighborhood. Probiotics are the friendly neighbors who help you clean out your garage and drive you to the airport. Prebiotics are the neighborhood watch, the good school systems and the sunny climate that make it a nice place for the probiotics to live, grow and have families.
I want a nice neighbourhood, how do I get one?
As with many beneficial food ingredients, there are plenty of companies producing supplements to help you increase your pre and probiotic intake. So that’s one option.
Your other option is through diet. Pre and probiotics are naturally found in a variety of common (and delicious) foods that are quite easy to integrate into your daily eating routine.
Prebiotics are naturally found in garlic, onions, asparagus, whole grains and bananas. In fact, fibre is a prebiotic, so increasing your fibre intake in general - via whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds etc - is a great way to increase your prebiotic intake.
Probiotics are naturally found in yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, pickles, kefir and tempeh.
So get yourself some garlic pickles, increase your vegetables during meals or put some sliced bananas or whole grain granola on your yogurt. Your neighborhood will thank you :-)